Polar Record

Research Article

Arctic shipping guidelines: towards a legal regime for navigation safety and environmental protection?

Øystein Jensen

a1 The Fridtjof Nansen Institute, P. O. Box 326, Fridtjof Nansen vei 17, 1326 Lysaker, Norway


With the International Polar Year (IPY) having commenced in March 2007, key issues relating to the polar regions are again in focus. This article reviews one central legal issue re-emerging in the Arctic: global regulation of safety standards for international shipping. The ‘Guidelines for ships operating in Arctic ice-covered waters’ are examined, with a view to the probable expansion of shipping in the Arctic in near future. Following an introduction to navigational issues within the Arctic context, the article describes how the guidelines came into being, and then analyses key elements and structure of the regulations and shortfalls of today's arrangements. The possible relevance of the guidelines to the Antarctic is also discussed briefly. Finally, the article inquires into the key repercussions of introducing binding regulations.

(Received June 2007)