The Polar Code and the Law of the Sea

In Svein Vigeland Rottem and Ida Folkestad Soltvedt (eds), Arctic Governance: Law and Politics. Volume 1. London, I.B. Tauris, 2017, pp. 151-178.

This chapter examines the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) in context of aspects of international law and, specifically, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The drafting history of the Polar Code is briefly examined, particularly the final consolidation phase of development, when regulating polar navigation emerged as a renewed item in the agenda of the International Maritime Organization and the aim was to make legally binding international law. Next the main contents of the Polar Code are reviewed. Finally the following implications for international law are analyzed: treaty interpretation in light of the legislative techniques utilized in the Polar Code; the prominence of the regulations of the Polar Code in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea's concept of 'generally accepted international rules and standards'; and the relationship of the Polar Code to Article 234 of the Law of the Sea Convention.