Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


The Arctic Polar Region is becoming increasingly important in terms of strategic operations. especially on the part of the superpowers. Surrounding the Arctic Ocean are two passages through which international navigation is possible. The Northwest Passage lies within Canada's coastline. and the Northeast Passage. within the Soviet Union's northern shores. Both countries have advanced claims to the effect that the waters of these passages are under their respective exclusive jurisdiction; thus. they are claiming these as their internal waters. The US disagrees and maintains that the waters of those northern Arctic sea routes are international waters. This paper discusses the Canadian and Soviet positions with respect to their individual claims; the basis of their international legal argumentation is also reviewed. The similarities and contrasts are highlighted in an analysis of both situations. A survey of American position is undertaken in terms of US stated policies and practice with regard to the Northwest and Northeast Passages.