photo: NASA Goddard Photo and Video/CC BY
Anticipating greater access to natural resources in the Arctic due to climate change nations which border the region are increasingly trying to stake claims to greater territory. Denmark is the latest example of this. Reuters reports Denmark and Greenland (which is self-governing but a dependency of Denmark) plan to present a claim to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf by the end of 2014.
The claim proposes that the continental shelf extends further than the conventional legal limit for coastal sovereignty of 200 nautical miles, and therefore Denmark is entitled to extend its territory--and extend seabed mineral rights into the new areas.
The new claim would cover three areas off Greenland, including one which would cover the North Pole.
Under international law no nation currently claims sovereignty over the North Pole. However in 2007 Russia planted a flag on the sea floor beneath the ice covering the pole and in general has been aggressive in trying to claim additional territory in the Arctic.
The Danish claim would conflict with those made by Russia and Canada.