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Who Owns the Northwest Passage? (economist.com)
15 points by pseudolus 25 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 5 comments



> America has long maintained that the Northwest Passage, which has up to seven different routes, is an international strait through which its commercial and military vessels have the right to pass without seeking Canada’s permission. It bases its claim on the case of the Corfu Channel, separating Albania’s coast from the Greek island of Corfu, that was brought before the International Court of Justice in 1947. The court ruled that Albania could not claim the channel as territorial waters because it was an international route for ships between two parts of the high seas over which no country had a claim. Similar disputes exist about the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman; the Bab al-Mandab strait between Yemen and Djibouti; and in parts of the South China Sea.

If that's what the US is basing it's legal claim on then it will fail on technicality. The illustrated route through the Northwest passage clearly shows it traversing waterways surrounded on each side by Canadian territory, not between two neighbouring countries as listed in the 'precedent' examples.

It would seem more a case of something like the Makassar strait in Indonesia, or the Cook Straight in New Zealand, where the passage is bounded on each side by territory belonging to one sovereign nation.


> If that's what the US is basing it's legal claim on then it will fail on technicality. The illustrated route through the Northwest passage clearly shows it traversing waterways surrounded on each side by Canadian territory, not between two neighbouring countries as listed in the 'precedent' examples.

It's not just other country's waters but also the 'High Seas':

> The United States position is that the Northwest Passage qualifies as an international strait, thus giving foreign ships the right of transit passage[6]. In order for a strait to meet the qualification of being international, there are geographical as well as functional criteria. The geographical criterion is that of a waterway between adjacent land masses that links two bodies of the High Seas or EEZs [7]. Its functional definition, not laid down in UNCLOS III but based on customary international law[8], defines the criterion to be a strait used for international navigation [2].

* http://www.arctis-search.com/Northwest+Passage+and+Jurisdict...

See UNCLOS, Articles 37 and 38(1) & (2):

* https://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unc...

So while it is internal to CA land mass, the argument goes that innocent passage is allowed through because there are 'High Seas' on either side, and so allowed for functional usage. This is why Spain, Morocco, and the UK can't simply close off the Strait of Gibraltar: there are international waters on either side, and so freedom of navigation is mandated. This is also why Greece can't just close off the Aegean Sea, even though they own the archipelago: freedom between the Black Sea and the Med.

I believe that that the Beaufort Sea (US EEZ?) and Baffin Bay (DK EEZ?) will be used for the purposes of the argument.

The US wants to open up the NWP, because in theory that would also open some waters around Russia as well.

I have no idea how valid this argument is, but that are the technicalities of it. IIRC, the EU holds the same position.

(Disclaimer: I'm Canadian.)


There are ultimately "high seas" on both sides of any passage of water connected to the ocean. This argument would seem to imply a territorial straight can't exist.


While the Bungo Channel et al connects the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, you have to cross JP's EEZ and so it is counted as internal:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bungo_Channel

The Cebu Strait is between various islands, all owned by PH and with no competing claims:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cebu_Strait

The Alor Strait connects waters controlled by ID

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alor_Strait


Looks like Canada does.




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