Arctic – What is “sectoral theory”?

What is “sectoral theory” and why are many countries unhappy with it?

Arctic is known to represent the northern polar region of the Earth. It includes the northern outskirts of Eurasia and North America, the Arctic Ocean, and the adjacent Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Although the place is rather harsh, it has long attracted people interest. For a long time, travelers have been attracted by these lifeless lands. 

It is clear that those countries that are washed by the Arctic Ocean had more opportunities for expeditions. The interest here was purely practical: the search for shorter sea routes. The Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage – these routes promised great economic benefits. And the faster the Arctic ice melts, the greater this interest. It is clear that the polar powers dreamed of seizing these routes.

Canada was the first. In 1909, Canada declared sovereignty in the territories located between the North Pole and its northern coast. Then, in 1926, the USSR declared its territory the areas bounded by the meridians 32 ° 4’35 “east longitude and 168 ° 49’30” west longitude. This is how the “sector theory” developed. It says that the Arctic sector is the space, the base of which is the coast of the state. The lateral lines are the meridians from the North Pole to the eastern and western borders of this state. 

Thus, the entire Arctic was divided among themselves by five states: Russia, Norway, USA, Canada, Denmark. Due to its geographical position, Russia was the luckiest of all – the huge length of borders from West to East helped in this. But the United States, for example, has a very small piece of the Arctic pie. Than they are very unhappy.

The “Arctic five” and the rest of the world

And if the “Arctic five” argues about the size of their northern possessions, other countries, generally deprived of the “right to the Arctic”, are extremely unhappy with the very formulation of the question. They consider the “sector theory” unfair, since the Arctic is the property of all mankind. As you might guess, they are not at all worried about the habitat of polar bears. The point here is completely different. 

Calculations show that the Arctic region contains colossal reserves of minerals, most of which are oil and gas. And this, as you know, is the bone of contention that can break the strongest agreements. Moreover, by and large, there are no agreements on the Arctic recognized by all countries. As there are no exact outlines of the boundaries of the Arctic itself.

The problem is complicated by the fact that the Arctic land and water areas have a different legal regime. This causes controversy – for example, about the ownership of the Lomonosov ridge.

The controversy gets hotter every year. This is greatly facilitated by the melting of the Arctic ice. More and more new players are intervening, and hotheads are voicing a variety of ideas. For example, it is no coincidence that the United States started talking about buying Greenland – this, by the way, is a direct path to an additional sector of the Arctic. New icebreakers are hastily being built, without which the development of the Arctic is impossible. Diplomats, and even the military, are preparing new steps. In general, today, the cold Arctic has become the subject of heated debate.

That is why many states refuse to recognize the “sectoral theory” that suited everyone earlier, demanding its revision, or even abolition.

Eurasia News Online

International News Online

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