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In reports of increasing tensions, bellicose rhetoric, and renewed “Great Power Competition” in the Arctic Ocean, analysts and the media at large too often mistakenly identify territorial disputes as a source of those tensions. In fact, there are no meaningful territorial disputes in the Arctic Ocean. In 2020, the five States with continental shelf in the Central Arctic Ocean – Canada, Denmark in respect of Greenland, Norway, Russia, and the United States – continue their longstanding collaboration to determine the extent of their respective continental shelves through established scientific, diplomatic, and legal processes.  

In the third edition of Polar Perspectives, Dr. Betsy Baker argues that the process for determining the outer limits of continental shelf entitlements is peaceful, rules-based and cooperative in the Arctic. Whatever other tensions may exist between the Central Arctic Ocean shelf States are not based on the ongoing process of resolving continental shelf entitlements in the Arctic.

About the Author

Betsy Baker

Betsy Baker

Global Fellow, Polar Institute;
Principal, Baker Arctic Consulting
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Polar Institute

Since its inception in 2017, the Polar Institute has become a premier forum for discussion and policy analysis of Arctic and Antarctic issues, and is known in Washington, DC and elsewhere as the Arctic Public Square. The Institute holistically studies the central policy issues facing these regions—with an emphasis on Arctic governance, climate change, economic development, scientific research, security, and Indigenous communities—and communicates trusted analysis to policymakers and other stakeholders.  Read more