Today, the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark together with the Government of Greenland will file a submission to define the outer limits of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The area consists of approximately 895,541 km² beyond 200 nautical miles from the coast of Greenland.
Denmark joins other nations including Canada, Norway, Russia and the United States with overlapping claims to an area that is rich in valuable natural resources.
Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Martin Lidegaard said in a statement “The submission of our claim to the continental shelf north of Greenland is a historic and important milestone for the Kingdom of Denmark. The objective of this huge project is to define the outer limits of our continental shelf and thereby – ultimately – of the Kingdom of Denmark. It has been a process characterised by the very good cooperation not only between authorities within the Kingdom of Denmark but also with our Arctic neighbours.
We are looking forward to the constructive meetings with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) and subsequent bilateral negotiations with neighbouring coastal States.”
The Danish government provided the following background to its claim.
The scientific and technical data, referred to as “the submission”, was submitted to CLCS through the UN Secretary General under the procedure laid down in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which the Kingdom of Denmark ratified in 2004.
States are entitled to a continental shelf extending to a distance of 200 nautical miles from their coast. However, claims on continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles must be supported by scientific and technical data. Against this background, experts have collected and processed data since 2002 e.g. from the area north of Greenland with a view to presenting the submission for consideration by CLCS.
This work has been carried out under the auspices of the so-called Continental Shelf Project of the Kingdom of Denmark headed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science in collaboration with both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other authorities of the Kingdom of Denmark as well as the Governments of the Faroe Islands and Greenland, respectively.
The area north of Greenland is the fifth area where the Kingdom of Denmark claims a continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. The first partial submission – north of the Faroe Islands – was presented in April 2009, with the subsequent partial submission regarding the area south of the Faroe Islands in December 2010.
In June 2012, the Kingdom of Denmark presented a partial submission regarding the area south of Greenland, and in November 2013 a partial submission was presented regarding the area north-east of Greenland.
Submissions by many States already await consideration by CLCS, and it is therefore difficult to predict when the consideration of this Danish/Greenland submission will be initiated.
Norway’s continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles overlaps the area of the present Danish/Greenland submission. In addition, there is potential overlap with Canada, the Russian Federation and the United States of America, respectively. Having received recommendations from CLCS, it will be up to the parties themselves to negotiate bilateral delimitation agreements.
These negotiations will take place in accordance with the rules of the international law of the sea as laid down in the Ilulissat Declaration of 2008.