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Research Topics

Actors and patterns of cooperation and conflict
Russia, Norway and the High North - Past, Present, Future
The United States in the 21 Century Arctic
Defining an Interest: The European Union and the High North
The Power of Energy
Law of the Sea and Ocean Governance
Climate Change and Environmental Protection

Law of the sea and ocean governance

Norway has one of the largest sea claims in the world. Norway’s claimed Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf, treasuries of natural resources, make up an area six times larger than the Norwegian mainland. Norway's maritime claim also includes the Fisheries Protection Zone and the continental shelf surrounding Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean to which Norway was granted sovereignty by the 1920 Svalbard Treaty. Several states, including Norway’s closest allies, have reserved their positions or protested against Norway’s exclusive claim with respect to the maritime zones adjacent to the Svalbard archipelago.

Maritime areas are of vital importance to Norway. Oil, natural gas, and fisheries products are the state’s number one, two, and four export products. In a 2005 Norwegian government White Paper on Arctic Policy, the dispute over jurisdiction in the high northern latitudes was recognized as containing “potential for conflict of interests.”

Law of the Sea and Ocean Governance is one of the work packages in the Geopolitics in the High North research programme. In this work package, we will address three inter-related questions, the first and second circumpolar in scope and the third centring on the Barents Sea:

  • The adequacy of the law of the sea and international environmental law to the Arctic Ocean.
    The prospects for increased access to the Arctic Ocean raises research questions on the adequacies of the existing international legal regimes for regional maritime governance. First addressed are the legal questions concerning the fixing of the outer limits of the continental shelf and the delimitation of the Arctic maritime zones. The second question is possible models for the Arctic Ocean and its marine environment under the Law of the Sea and international environmental law.
  • Great-power policies towards the Barens Sea.
    What are the interests and policies of the USA, the UK and the EU towards jurisdictional issues in the Barents Sea, including Svalbard? These actors have traditionally been Norway’s major allies in high politics. Little systematic knowledge exists, however, about their interests and positions regarding the delimitation issues in the Barents Sea and jurisdiction in the waters and on the shelf off Svalbard.
  • The history of Norwegian jurisdictional expansion.
    Norway has been one of the major beneficiaries of the developments in international ocean law. This project will explore Norway’s efforts to influence these developments in the post WWII era and in the UNCLOS III-process (1974–1982) in particular. It will examine how Norway has implemented the rules emanating from global agreements into domestic legislation.

The work package will also include a PhD course on Arctic Ocean Governance, thereby contribute to the training of a future generation of researchers.

Another relevant project regarding Law of the Sea and ocean governance: Arctic Governance


©2014-2017 Geopolitics in the High North. All rights reserved

Norwegian Institute for defence Studies CSIS Fritjof Nansen Institute Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik University of Tromsø Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the MFA of Russia University of Oslo Institute of general history Norwegian Defence Research Establishment Econ Pöyry
  The GeoPolitics in the High North research programme is now terminated, and the programme website will be preserved through 2016, but not updated.
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