Who Owns the North Pole?

October 13, 2016 | Michael Heykoop

"The True North strong and free!" This exclamation from Canada's national anthem has long illustrated the feeling this vast nation holds for what it so deeply values as its northernmost territory. In recent years, however, this patriotic assertion has come under fire, with neighbouring nations making similar proclamations of ownership regarding the North Pole.

Subscribe Today! If you would like to receive weekly emails informing you when new commentaries and Tomorrow's World Viewpoint videos are uploaded, please subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Several claims now sit before the United Nations in an effort to answer an important question: Who owns the North Pole-and, perhaps more importantly, the resources that lie under the northern tip of our planet?

With the majority of Canada's population settled along its southern border, less than 1 percent of Canadians live above the Arctic Circle. Most Canadians will never even visit these distant and majestic northern lands, yet they are widely seen as a core aspect of Canada's national identity. It is home to the Northwest Passage, a shipping lane treated as international waters by the United States and the European Union, but claimed by Canada as sovereign territory-a dispute of growing importance if Arctic ice continues to melt.

Currently, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea allows nations to claim the waters extending 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from their coast. A nation can submit a claim to extend its boundaries if it can prove the continental shelf stemming from their coast extends beyond the current border. Scientists from Canada, Russia and Denmark are each now trying to prove that the Lomonosov Ridge-running 1,800 kilometers from the top of Ellesmere Island across the North Pole and back south through Russian waters-is an extension of their continental shelf.

In 2002, Russia submitted a formal claim seeking recognition of Russian sovereignty over an extended northern boundary. This claim was quickly sent back for lack of scientific evidence (CBC News, "Russia Submits Claim for Vast Arctic Seabed Territories at U.N."). Russia further attempted to stake its claim in 2007 when a submersible planted a Russian flag on the seabed at the North Pole.

Not to be outdone, Canada filed a partial claim with the United Nations in December of 2013, outlining the extent to which the government believed Canada's jurisdiction should be extended while indicating that "it will make a pitch for the North Pole in a later submission" (Toronto Star, "Why Canada's Race to Claim the North Pole Could Backfire").

The U.N. commission faces such a backlog of submissions that a best-case scenario could see a decision reached in ten years.

Nations stake claims to territory in a variety of ways. Planting flags, declarations of sovereignty, submissions to United Nations commissions and flexing of military muscle are but a few. What does God think of such declarations? It is prudent for a Christian to try to see world events from the perspective of the Almighty. Speaking of Jesus Christ, scripture tells us that "by Him all things were created that are in heaven and on earth... All things were created through Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). We also understand that "the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses" (Daniel 5:21). God is not persuaded by the planting of flags or flexing of military might.

Tomorrow's World looks forward to Jesus Christ returning to inherit all of His creation-including the North Pole (Zechariah 14:9)! He will give rulership to His saints (Revelation 5:10) even giving some individuals responsibility over tribes (Matthew 19:28) and nations (Ezekiel 37:24). Ezekiel 47-48 even describes Christ setting national boundaries. It is only under His authority and by His direction that disputes over territory, waterways and resources will ultimately come to an end. So, we have our answer to the question: "Who owns the North Pole?" Jesus Christ does, and He is looking for humble men and women with whom he can work, who will submit to Him and develop in themselves His holy and righteous character, that they too may inherit it (Psalm 37:11, 22; Matthew 5:5) in Tomorrow's World!

This commentary is an adaptation of the article Who Owns the North? Originally published as part of the Oh Canada! section of the March-April 2016 Tomorrow's World. Click here to read this article in its original format.

To learn more about what life will be like when Christ returns as King of kings, read our informative free booklet The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?.

Stock media provided by erectus / Pond5.com