Canada’s Influence on the Law of the Sea

Canada in International Law at 150 and Beyond Paper No. 7

February 16, 2018

Canada, throughout its 150-year history, has adhered to and, at times, has had to vigorously defend the ideal of the rule of law among nations. On at least two occasions, Canada has played the role of determined promoter of necessary change in the law of the sea. Stepping outside its usual role of committed proponent of the established international legal order, Canada has chosen to act beyond the strict confines of existing rules to defend environmental values and promote a more effective governance regime. With the 1970 Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act and the 1995 Canada-EU Turbot Dispute, Canada made the calculated decision to take concrete action to protect its fragile Arctic waters and halt the depletion of vulnerable living resources off its Atlantic coast.

Part of Series

Canada in International Law at 150 and Beyond/Canada et droit international : 150 ans d’histoire et perspectives d’avenir

Marking 150 years since Confederation provides an opportunity for Canadian international law practitioners and scholars to reflect on Canada’s past, present and future in international law and governance. This series of essays, written in the official language chosen by the authors, that provides a critical perspective on Canada’s past and present in international law, surveys the challenges that lie before us and offers renewed focus for Canada’s pursuit of global justice and the rule of law. The project leaders were Oonagh E. Fitzgerald, director of the International Law Research Program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI); Valerie Hughes, CIGI senior fellow, adjunct assistant professor of law at Queen’s University and former director at the World Trade Organization; and Mark Jewett, CIGI senior fellow, counsel to the law firm Bennett Jones, and former general counsel and corporate secretary of the Bank of Canada. The series was published as a book titled Reflections on Canada’s Past, Present and Future in International Law/Réflexions sur le passé, le présent et l’avenir du Canada en matière de droit international in spring 2018.

About the Author

Suzanne Lalonde is a professor of international law and the law of the sea at the University of Montreal Faculty of Law and a research associate with ArcticNet, a network of centres of excellence in Canada. She holds a Ph.D. in public international law from the University of Cambridge, King’s College, obtained in 1997 under the supervision of James Crawford.