Russian Proposals on the Polar Code: Contributing to Common Rules or Furthering State Interests?
The mandatory Polar Code was finally adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in May 2015. The present article examines the role and contribution of the Russian Federation in the decision-making process of the Polar Code through its proposals, in the form of submissions, statements, and oral interventions. The purpose of these proposals is investigated with respect to the safety and environmental protection goals ofthe IMO and Russian interests in the Arctic, by looking at the reasoning used by Russia in its proposals. The major issue areas represented in the Russian proposals include, among others, the role of coastal State legislation, environmental regulations, and icebreaker assistance; however, the majority of these do not contribute to the IMO’s goals of creating globally uniform standards for maritime safety and protecting the marine environment. The Russian proposals served State interests through misrepresentation and reference to Russia’s experience in Arctic shipping. While the latter frames Russia as a leading user of Arctic waters, the role that Russia played in the Polar Code negotiations indicates that Russia has more than shipping interests to protect in the Arctic.