Russian Flag at the North Pole

Rosemary Rayfuse

in International Law's Objects

Published in print December 2018 | ISBN: 9780198798200
Published online February 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780191858642 | DOI:
Russian Flag at the North Pole

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Russia’s planting of a flag on the seabed at the North Pole in 2007 set off a flurry of concern about its maritime and territorial ambitions and the potential for international conflict in the Arctic. However, the law of the sea now renders moot traditional rules of the doctrine of discovery and occupation as manifestations of sovereignty. Thus, the Russian flag at the North Pole is meaningless in the legal sense. Nevertheless, it is not irrelevant. On the one hand, it has catalyzed the development of a ‘law habit’ among the Arctic states now reflected in cooperation on scientific and technical work to support their overlapping outer continental-shelf claims to the Arctic seabed and on other Arctic Ocean matters. On the other hand, it has clearly signalled a claim to an advantageous negotiating position. The flag is thus a physical manifestation of both the power and pretence of international law.

Keywords: law of the sea; Arctic Ocean; outer continental shelf; North Pole; doctrine of discovery; Russian flag at North Pole

Chapter.  4201 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public International Law

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