Canada and the Polar Code: Balancing Unilateralism and Multilateralism in the Regulation of Arctic Shipping Special Issue on Arctic and Antarctic Regions: New Challenges for Ocean Governance

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Polar Code, Arctic, Shipping Regulation, Canada


This article discusses Canada's implementation of the Polar Code recently adopted by the International Maritime Organization and how this instrument triggered an implementation strategy that produced a high degree of harmonization with the code. This discussion is undertaken against the historical backdrop of unilateral legislation and emergence of Article 234 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982. Canadian expectations in the development of the Polar Code and the extent to which these were addressed in the final product and eventually implemented are analysed. The article reflects on how the Canadian approach to the implementation of the Polar Code has produced a pragmatic balance between unilateralism and multilateralism. While Canada has increasingly engaged with regional and global fora on shipping governance issues, there will likely be continued use of Article 234.