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Some implications in international law of the Soviet proposal to open the northern sea royte to transnational comercial traffic; transit passage in the Soviet Arctic straits

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Dunlap, William Vern 


The Soviet Union, with the cooperation of the Scott Polar Research Institute, the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has recently undertaken the Northern Sea Route Project, an effort to ascertain the feasibility of opening the shipping route along the Arctic coast of the Soviet Union, from the Norwegian frontier to the Bering Strait. The goal is to operate the route on a year-round basis, offering it to commercial shippers as a substantially shorter alternative route from northern Europe to the Pacific Ocean in the hope of raising hard currency in exchange for pilotage, icebreaking, refueling, and other services. Meanwhile, the international law of the sea has been developing at a rapid pace, creating, among other things, a right of transit passage that allows, subject to specified conditions, the relatively unrestricted passage of all foreign vessels -commercial and military -- through straits used for international navigation. In addition, transit passage permits submerged transit by submarines and overflight by aircraft, practices with implications for the national security of states bordering straits. This thesis summarizes the law of the sea as it relates to straits used for international navigation, and then describes 43 significant straits of the Northeast Arctic Passage, identifying the characteristics of each that are relevant to a determination of whether the strait will be subject to transit passage.






Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Digitisation of this thesis was sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.