The Government of Denmark will together with the Government of Greenland claim ownership of around 900,000 square kilometers of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean by filing a submission to United Nations. The area is as large as France and Germany put together and 20 times bigger than Denmark itself.
With the move, Denmark will become the first country in the world to attempt to claim outright ownership of the North Pole.
“The submission of our claim to the continental shelf north of Greenland is a historic and important milestone for the Kingdom of Denmark,” Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said in a statement.
Submissions by many States already await consideration by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. Denmark acknowledges that Norway’s continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles overlaps the Danish claim. It may also overlap with claims by Canada, Russia and the United States.
Russia claims that the Lomonosov Ridge, which goes straight across the North Pole, is a continuation of the Russian continental shelf and plans to file a claim in spring 2015.
The process of evaluating the Danish claims can take as much as 10-15 years, according to Politiken. If more than one state gets their claim approved by the commission, it will be up to the parties themselves to negotiate bilateral delimitation agreements.
Before filing the claim, Denmark has spent twelve years collecting the needed scientific data and filed claims of four other areas close to Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The total costs of collecting and processing data from these remote areas amount to DKK 330 million (app. €44.3 billion), Politiken writes.
Norway in 2009 became the first country to settle an agreement with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The country’s newly defined continental shelf in the north covers 235,000 km2 or three-quarters the size of mainland Norway. The shelf boundary is between 84 and 85 degrees north, approx half the way between the northern edge Svalbard and the North Pole.