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This study examines three historical maritime disputes to draw lessons and insights for the future of maritime governance in a rapidly transforming Arctic. The historical case studies – the 1920 Svalbard Treaty, the 1936 Montreux Convention, and the 1961 Antarctic Treaty – are highly instructive cases for a region that also must balance a confluence of international economic development, environmental protection, and security concerns along with strategic and ecologically sensitive maritime spaces. While historically unique, important lessons for the Arctic and its future governing needs are gleaned that address challenging geography, the assertion of national sovereignty, and the pursuit of shared environmental goals.
Heather A. Conley is senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic at CSIS.