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International Law and the Arctic


Award Winner

Part of Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law

  • Date Published: July 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107470903

£ 24.99

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About the Authors
  • Climate change and rising oil prices have thrust the Arctic to the top of the foreign policy agenda and raised difficult issues of sovereignty, security and environmental protection. Improved access for shipping and resource development is leading to new international rules on safety, pollution prevention and emergency response. Around the Arctic, maritime boundary disputes are being negotiated and resolved, and new international institutions, such as the Arctic Council, are mediating deep-rooted tensions between Russia and NATO and between nation states and indigenous peoples. International Law and the Arctic explains these developments and reveals a strong trend towards international cooperation and law-making. It thus contradicts the widespread misconception that the Arctic is an unregulated zone of potential conflict.

    • Provides an overview of the international law on subjects including indigenous peoples, environmental protection, and oil and gas exploration
    • Refutes the widespread misconception that the Arctic is an unregulated zone of potential conflict, instead illustrating a strong trend towards international cooperation which serves as an invaluable case study for post-Cold War international relations
    • Explains international law without recourse to jargon and in a manner that is readily accessible to non-lawyers
    Read more


    • Winner of the 2014 Donner Prize

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book is an accessible and thorough analysis of the current state of play in the Central Arctic Ocean and its five bordering coastal states, an area where the combination of melting sea-ice and the growing demand for oil and gas has increased international interest in resource exploration, shipping rights and environmental protection. Written with passion and first-hand experience of the subject, International Law and the Arctic reminds us that we cannot ignore the importance of the Arctic to Canada and all its people.' Donner Prize Jury

    'By situating legal instruments and norms within the region's complex politics, diverse cultures, emergent economic sectors, and increasingly dynamic geophysical environment, Michael Byers has written an accessible but thorough guide to the region.' Philip E. Steinberg, Durham University

    'This is a very informative and comprehensive book about contemporary international law as interpreted and applied to the Arctic region. Its components, including chapters on territorial issues, the delimitation of continental shelves, and the regulation of growing economic activities in a changing environment, make it both timely and of great intellectual and practical demand.' Alexander N. Vylegzhanin, Moscow State Institute of International Relations

    'Michael Byers' impressive analysis of the legal issues pertaining to the Arctic is a must-read for everyone concerned with the future of this increasingly important region.' Geir Ulfstein, University of Oslo

    'Eminently accessible and engaging, [this book] serves as an excellent introduction to the central environmental, political, and legal issues in the past, present, and future of the Arctic.' Brian Israel, American Journal of International Law

    'Byers' progressive argumentation … raise[s] very interesting points and I recommend [the book] . . . to anyone interested . . . in the Arctic.' Nikolas Sellheim, Polar Record

    'Written in an approachable style, its chapters opened by folksy illustrative episodes from the author's and others' forays into the Arctic, this welcome book serves both as an introduction to the gradually thickening web of international instruments guiding the interactions of not only States but also the indigenous peoples of the Arctic and as a corrective to the misleading picture created by the conflict-obsessed media for whom peaceful cooperation is less nourishing fodder than an imaginary looming confrontation over resources and the boundaries that determine title to them.' Andrew Serdy, International and Comparative Law Quarterly

    'Byers' expertise in the field is apparent. One can only admire how he covers so many diverse and complicated areas of international law demonstrating how they play out in the reality of the Arctic … It is a landmark work on this issue-area. Byers covers practically all the issues of international law that are relevant to the Arctic, which in itself is a major achievement. … This is an immense undertaking, and unfortunately we have fewer and fewer generalists like Michael Byers in international law who are up to this task. … I think it is clear that Michael Byers has written a book that will become a cornerstone of legal studies on the Arctic. The book is comprehensive in scope, most readable, and deep in its understanding of the issues. By any yardstick, this is an excellent book that will likely become a standard text for all Arctic enthusiasts.' Timo Koivurova, Global Law Books (

    'The book is a fine synthesis of international relations, history, pragmatic commentary, and law. It will appeal to a wide audience, including policy-makers, media researchers, and those who need a single work to explain international relations in the Arctic.' Jeffrey J. Smith, Canadian Yearbook of International Law

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107470903
    • length: 342 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 1 map
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Territory
    2. Maritime boundaries
    3. Beaufort Sea boundary
    4. Extended continental shelves
    5. Arctic straits
    6. Environmental protection
    7. Indigenous peoples
    8. Security.

  • Author

    Michael Byers, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
    Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia.


    • Winner of the 2014 Donner Prize

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