The IMO Guidelines for Ships Operating in Arctic Ice-Covered Waters: From Voluntary to Mandatory Tool for Navigation Safety and Environmental Protection?

FNI Report 2/2007. Lysaker, FNI, 2007, 32 p.

This report explores whether there is a need for strengthened and binding shipping regulations for the safety of navigation and protection of the Arctic marine environment. The various maritime, geopolitical and legal issues raised by the IMO Guidelines for Ships Operating in Arctic Ice-covered Waters are analyzed and discussed. Following an introduction of navigational and legal issues within the Arctic context, the report explores key elements and structure of the Arctic Guidelines, the roles of the governments, the IMO and classification societies in the lawmaking process and any shortfalls of the current arrangement. The possible relevance for the Antarctic is also discussed. The key repercussions of a binding legal regime are then presented, while a separate section is devoted to recommendations on the subject.