Arctic countries such as Canada shouldn't have sole jurisdiction over the protection of northern waters, a United Nations-sponsored conference will hear this week.
The circumpolar world needs a global treaty to ensure high standards of environmental protection, shipping safety and resource development, says a report by the World Wildlife Fund's international office.
"We need a holistic approach," said Tatiana Saksina, Arctic governance officer for the fund. "We need some basic principles which we can make applicable to the whole area."
Saksina is scheduled to address an international symposium in Iceland sponsored by the United Nations University's Institute of Advanced Studies, which acts as a think-tank for the UN General Assembly. She said the current regime, in which each country manages waters off its own coasts independently, leaves too many holes.
"Unfortunately, the national sets of rules are not harmonious. That's the problem -- there are gaps."
As well, she said, some countries are less responsible than others.
"Some countries, although they have very good rules, they do not implement them fully."
Many Arctic experts have expressed concern over increasing commercial use of the North for tourism and resource development as climate change melts the ice pack and opens the previously inaccessible waters.
Saksina said all countries should come together through the UN to negotiate a treaty to ensure tough, uniform regulations are in place throughout the circumpolar world. Although negotiating such a treaty would take years, she said it would take even longer to convince all Arctic nations to draft and implement adequate legislation.
The five Arctic coastal states -- Canada, the U.S., Russia, Denmark and Norway -- appeared to reject international jurisdiction in a communique issued after a meeting in Greenland last summer.
However, Saksina said there's still room for such a treaty.
"If we look between the lines of this declaration, we can see that states acknowledge there are problems in governance."
International lawyer and conference chairman David Leary said there's significant support among Arctic experts for some sort of treaty, but many others are unconvinced it's needed.
"Opinions are divided," he said.
The proposal will be debated and may form one of the recommendations issued Tuesday by the conference.
When something screws up, who's going to be blamed in this system? Probably still us who have artic territory.
So now the UN is going to try and pull a few tricks from the US's books and try and control what happens in soverign nations and their territories, because their standards and way of operation are not up to their standards?
All I gotta say about that is too god damn bad. We'll control and regulate our territory, just as the US or Russia would.... and I highly doubt they'd be up for this, so why the hell should we?