This is from smh. Note that Canada not only has a dispute with Denmark over a tiny uninhabited island but a much larger issue with the U.S. over whether the northwest passage is international waters.
Five Arctic powers to meet in Greenland
May 25, 2008 - 11:47AM
Representatives of the five countries bordering the Arctic will meet in Greenland on Wednesday to discuss the impact of climate change on the icy region - and how to divide up its as-yet untapped rich resources.
"We must solve our problems peacefully and through accords in line with international law," said Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, who with the head of the local Greenland government Hans Enoksen, will host the meeting.
Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States are at odds over 1.2 million square kilometres of Arctic seabed.
According to the US Geological Survey, it could hold 25 per cent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas.
The United States will be represented at the meeting in Ilulissat in western Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, by its deputy foreign policy chief John Negroponte.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be in Stockholm participating in a conference on Iraq.
The meeting will also be attended by Moeller, Enoksen, Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Stoere.
The rivalry between the five Arctic neighbours has heated up as melting polar ice makes the region more accessible. Scientists saying the Northwest Passage could open up to year-round shipping by 2050.
Denmark and Canada have a longstanding disagreement over who owns the tiny, uninhabited, ice-covered Hans island, which straddles Nares Strait between Greenland and Canada's Ellesmere Island.
Canada and the United States are at odds over the sovereignty of the Northwest Passage that links the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans.
Last year, Russian explorers claimed to have planted their national flag at the bottom of the ocean, at a depth of more than 4,000 metres, after an expedition aimed at underlining Moscow's aspirations to Arctic territory.
"South Africa can also plant its flag there if it wants," said Moeller. But it did not mean anything when it came to Arctic territorial claims, he added.
Moeller insisted on the necessity of respecting existing international accords.
According to international law, each of the countries bordering the Arctic hold sovereignty over a zone measuring 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres).
That leaves 1.2 million square kilometres of unclaimed territory in an area believed to hold vast petroleum riches.
The UN convention on the Law of the Sea gives countries that are signatories to the treaty the possibility of challenging claims of seabed sovereignty if they want to assert their claims beyond the 200-nautical-mile zone. They have 10 years to do so after ratifying the convention.
All the countries bordering the Arctic have ratified the convention except the United States, but Moeller said he did not expect the final status of the icy region to be determined until 2020.
Climate change meanwhile, which is rendering the region increasingly accessible, has increased the stakes, making the need for an international resolution of the conflicting claims in the area more pressing.
Maritime security and protection of the fragile Arctic ecosystem will also be hot items on the agenda at the May 28 meeting.
The Arctic ice caps are in fact melting at "rates significantly faster than predicted", according to a study published last month by conservation group the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The melting of Arctic sea ice and the Greenland Ice Sheet, currently at their lowest levels ever recorded, was happening so fast experts were now questioning whether the situation was close to the "tipping point", it added.
The tipping point is the point at which sudden and possibly irreversible change takes place.
© 2008 AFP