Political Aspects of International Shipping along the Northern Sea Route

(By Anatoliy N. Yakovlev, Alexander I. Arikainen, Oleg A. Kossov, Alexander P. Ushakov; INSROP Working Paper No. 75 – 1997, IV.2.2)


The object of this research consisted in highlighting the formation of the USSR (Russian) policy relating to international shipping along the NSR, looking into the positive experience of other arctic countries in navigating in the adjoining arctic waters, comparing the basic problems of likely international navigation along the NSR and Northwest Passage (NWP), and predicting the Russian Federation future policy relating to international transit shipping in its Arctic waters.

The publication contains analysis of the USSR (Russian) policy, as well as policies of other arctic countries, towards international shipping in the Arctic in general and along the NSR, in particular. The analysis is made on basis of systems approach. It has taken into account historical, legal, political, military, economic, social, ecological and other factors.

The stages of the NSR system transformation into a national transportation route are identified and the USSR initiatives on commercial international transit shipping are highlighted. It is stated how the legal status of shipping in the Russian arctic waters was established.

The publication treats the issues of military utilization of the NSR, including establishment of a modern non-discrimination procedure for war ships to pass along the NSR routes.

It contains an analysis of the policies and practices of other arctic states relating to transit voyages and regulation of navigation in the adjoining arctic waters. There is comparative analysis resulting in conclusion that by the natural conditions, availability of an infrastructure, practical experience and the established legal order the NSR has a number of advantages compared to the NWP.

It shows that realization of the USSR initiatives in the documents adopted by Russia ensures the legal status of the international NSR utilization for transportation purposes most adequate to the statements of the UN Law of the Sea Convention

The publication also deals with the complexities that became evident in the NSR system in the period of transition from centrally planned economy to market relations in Russia. At the first stage the relations between the new subjects of the Russian Federation, formed without necessary regulation, brought about serious contradictions, which could lead to ruin the former united smoothly functioning system. The measures were suggested aimed at enhancing the role of the NSR system' central bodies. The documents that are already adopted and are being prepared for publication should ensure stabilization of the NSR's functioning and its further planwise development that will satisfy the requirements of the economy to be restored.


    Anatoliy N. Yakovlev, Alexander I. Arikainen, Oleg A. Kossov, Alexander P. Ushakov, 1997, Political Aspects of International Shipping along the Northern Sea Route, INSROP.©