Thursday, August 22, 2013


Greenpeace Denied Entry To Russian Arctic

 We Think The Bear's Action Makes Good Common Sense But We Are Not Sure Of The Legality.

Story by the AP's Karl Ritter as carried on Yahoo News 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  We have long felt that the tactics of GREEN PEACE are often counter productive to environmental safety. Collisions at sea are never good for the environment and their protest tactics involve enhanced danger of collision.  Russia has denied a GREEN PEACE ship access to the Northern Sea Route . We seriously doubt that any of the other nations with an Arctic coast object to the decision on its face. These people present a danger to the environment every time they get on a ship due to their disregard for the International Rules to Avoid Collision, and their usurpation of the international naval right of close approach, GREENPEACE has no such right. However, one enters the Northwest Passage  or Northern Sea Route  via a number of straits. In international law there is enshrined a basic legal principal of freedom of navigation of "international straits". 

  Russia claims virtually the entire Arctic. The other adjacent coastal states including the United States and Canada claim only the standard 12 mile territorial limit and an exclusive economic zone in accordance with current international law. So far the dispute has remained diplomatic and legal.  All of the adjacent coastal states are environmentally sensitive hence "bull in the china closet" type tactics by non governmental environmental organizations  are not welcome anywhere in the High Arctic regions. Certainly GREEN PEACE has a deserved "bull in the China closet" reputation. But under the larger burden of the international legal principal of freedom of navigation of straits we don't see how any ship flagged in any nation not at war with an adjacent coastal state can be legally kept out except for technical reasons that endanger the exclusive rights of the recognized EEZ nations economic/environmental interest in the EEZ area . If an otherwise qualified for passage ship then misbehaves within the legally recognized EEZ of an adjacent coastal state it is up to the currently recognized EEZ authority to take control of the situation. Adjacent coastal states may, under present international law, cooperate on the expulsion of proven trouble makers but they should not individually or in collusion combine to deny passage through a route that is often beyond territorial seas, though mostly  inside EEZs where "innocent passage" is a point of international law, unless for a recognized exception to the general rule..

 The Dragon, China displays unique duplicity in this regard. With no High Arctic Coast China routinely invokes traditional and codified international law to assert its absolute right of innocent passage through the North West Passage. Yet in the China Seas it maintains a right to the entire water area as territorial waters right up to the beach line of neighboring coastal states, a totally illegal and unsupportable position that it comes dangerously close to supporting by force of arms. Now is not the time for the High Arctic coastal powers to start acting like the Dragon. We don't know all of the circumstances of the Russian action, and we certainly agree with Russia's unspoken judgement that GREEN PEACE is a menace in Arctic waters but we are concerned that everybody up there follow international law and not provide an example of internationally cooperative deviation from the law to the Chinese who want to fold, staple, mutilate, and bend it to their will.

So to the Bear we say...good safety call big furry guy....probably a legal call....but the way it was done seems arguable. So  let's not anyone try to build precedent around this call. Russia in the Soviet Era was expert at excruciatingly correct articulation of international law whenever the law thwarted American or Western aims. Her present overreaching High Arctic claims are not in keeping with the Russian tradition of excruciatingly correct interpretation of  international law but the dispute so far has been limited to diplomatic channels and international litigation. Over stating one's case is a not unheard of legal tactic. Lets hope that Russia, which has certainly taken the lead in High Arctic economic development will also take the lead in getting all of the adjacent coastal states in the region to cooperate in an internationally accepted cooperative legal regime that protects both freedom of navigation and the sensitive High Arctic environment.

 Check below for a lead in and link to the AP/Yahoo News Story:

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Russia has blocked a Greenpeace ship from entering Arctic waters where the environmentalist group was planning to protest against oil exploration activities by Russian oil company Rosneft and ExxonMobil, the group said Wednesday.
Russian authorities had denied the icebreaker Arctic Sunrise entry to the Northern Sea Route, citing questions over the vessel's ice strengthening, Greenpeace said in a statement.
It said the Arctic Sunrise has a higher ice classification than many of the more than 400 vessels that have been granted access to the Northern Sea Route this year.
"This is a thinly veiled attempt to stifle peaceful protest and keep international attention away from Arctic oil exploration in Russia," Greenpeace campaigner Christy Ferguson said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.
"The Arctic Sunrise is a fully equipped icebreaker with significant experience of operating in these conditions, while the oil companies operating here are taking unprecedented risks in an area teeming with polar bears, whales, and other Arctic wildlife," she said.
Russia's Northern Sea Route Administration, which has turned down all three applications that Greenpeace has lodged this summer, referred calls seeking comment to the Transport Ministry. The Transport Ministry told the AP in an emailed statement that the application did not comply with the most recent Russian regulations. The ministry said that Greenpeace's most recent application did not include "information about the ice belt breadth, which was the reason for the refusal."
To read the Full story click on the link: : GREEN PEACE DENIED ARCTIC ENTRY

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