Resources Science ›› 2020, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (11): 2062-2074.doi: 10.18402/resci.2020.11.02

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International regime for the use of Arctic marine resources and China’s response

CHEN Yitong1,2(), GAO Xiao1   

  1. 1. Law School, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266100, China
    2. Institute of Marine Development, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266100, China
  • Received:2020-05-07 Revised:2020-09-03 Online:2020-11-25 Published:2021-01-25

Abstract:

Climate change has made it possible for the human being to use the Arctic marine resources, but few studies have addressed the value and role of the international regime, including the Arctic Council, in the use of Arctic marine resources, as well as the dynamics of the interactive mechanism with environmental protection. The study of the international regime for the use of Arctic marine resources will be conducive to better utilization of Arctic marine resources and provide a scientific basis and reference for safeguarding China’s rights and interests in the Arctic. Under the impact of climate change, opportunities and potential for the exploitation of marine resources, such as shipping, oil and gas, and fisheries, which were previously unavailable due to sea ice, have attracted keen interest from various stakeholders. Through the analysis of the potential for the use of Arctic marine resources and environmental risks and the corresponding international governance regime, it was found that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which has a sectoral character that divides the whole ocean into different maritime zones, and a series of issue-based international organizations and international legal instruments together constitute the international regime for the use of Arctic marine resources. The Arctic Council plays the role of providing knowledge products, coordinating the consensus of Arctic States, promoting political will, and liaising with relevant competent international organizations in the governance of Arctic marine resources, but its regional approach lacks consideration of external interests, the common interests of mankind, and the overall interests of the ocean. On the cross-sectorial issue of the use of Arctic marine resources, the existing international regime neglects the wholeness of the overall ocean, and it has not been able to address the relationship between resource use and marine ecological and environmental protection. The existing international regime is in dire need of international cooperation that can accommodate external stakeholders. Under the guidance of the concept of a community of maritime destiny, China should continue to expand the multidimensional channels for participation in Arctic governance within and outside the Arctic Council, and skillfully safeguard its national interests in the Arctic region.

Key words: Arctic, marine resources, Arctic Council, international regime, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, China