[Show/Hide Left Column]

The Trans Polar Passage 1        

The Trans Polar Passage

(by Brit Fløistad and Lars Lothe)


Unlike the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage, the Trans Polar Passage is international waters and outside geographical reach of national jurisdiction. This has not been challenged by Russia or Canada with basis in the sector theory. The Russian and Canadian laws which have been passed are limited to the coastal zones.

Thus, the legal regime governing the Trans Polar Passage is the regime described in section 6.2 above: International ocean law, as expressed by UNCLOS III and other conventions, most prominently the SOLAS-convention, the STWC-convention and MARPOL. The IMO-Guidelines have the same significance for activities in the Trans Polar Passage as they have for any other arctic sea route. But since no national legislation exist, it becomes even more important to transform the IMO-Guidelines into binding rules. The importance of good corporate governance and corporate social responsibility also increases in lieu of national legislation.

The international rules are only binding for state parties, not for private enterprises. Therefore, it becomes important that flag states with registered ships operating in the Arctic are bound by the relevant treaties and conventions. Without having made an extensive survey, it can still be said that many of the states offering “flags of convenience” do not impose strict regulations in areas such as safety and environmental issues.


    Brit Fløistad and Lars Lothe, 2010, The Trans Polar Passage 1, CHNL.©

    Search Guide [toggle]