Home > Politics > Arctic Oil and the Law of the Seize

Arctic Oil and the Law of the Seize

Rene Wadlow writes in Toward Freedom:

There is a touch of the 19th century scramble to divide Africa among European colonial powers in Russia’s decision to drop a capsule containing a Russian flag on the Arctic sea floor not far from the North Pole on August 2nd. In preparation for the 1885 Berlin Conference which was to draw the boundaries of the African colonies, there was a mad rush to place national flags on all the commercial outposts so that France, England, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Portugal could claim prior possession of the area.

The Russian flag provoked an immediate three-day Arctic trip of the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, followed by strong statements from Norway which has Arctic claims, and an expedition from Denmark, whose Greenland possessions allow it to claim that the disputed Lomonosov Ridge, a 1,240-mile underwater mountain range, is attached to Greenland. The Danish Minister of Science and Technology, Helge Sander, said “No matter how many flags you plant or how many prime ministers you send, that doesn’t become a valid parameter in the process.” However, to make sure that the Danish flag is seen, Denmark has plans for two more expeditions to justify its claims. Not to be left behind, the US Coast Guard is sending a ship this year, the cutter Healy, to map the sea floor on the northern Chuhchi Cap, an underwater plateau that extends from Alaska some 1,500 miles northward.

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