BBC | IMO | Malaysia attacked the United States of America today, calling its attitude “neo-imperialism at its best”

The International Maritime Organization’s debates on maritime law for trade routes in the Arctic grew heated today as the delegate from Malaysia attacked the delegate from the United States of America after she attempted to edit existing maritime laws. “I don’t have the audacity to rewrite the rules, [they] want to further their own economic gains,” the delegate from Malaysia said. The discussion stemmed from the Law of the Sea’s Article 82, which allows the International Seabed Authority to reallocate funds gained from Arctic Sea trade to landlocked countries. Delegates from Malaysia and Korea highlighted the economic nuances of this plan, talking about how the existing plan provides 1 percent of exports to landlocked countries, but takes 26 percent of the overall exports from them. Their plan focused on revising the law in order to fix the ratio, effectively increasing the funds allocated to landlocked countries. “Our plan values small nations,” the delegate from Malaysia said. “[The United States] is in favour for corporate interests. When economic profiteering and destruction of small countries happens, it is a failure.”

The United States’ delegate  chose not to respond directly to Malaysia during the  moderated caucus, but first clarified her position during during an unmoderated caucus. Her motivations do not only stem from protecting the United States’ economic interests, but also because she cannot control which landlocked countries the funds go to. “They could be countries that are run by terrorists, or countries that do not have democratic values,” the delegate from the United States said.  She supports a resolution that would concurrently respect the existing control exercised by countries like the United States and give access to countries that feel left out. Her goal is to “preserve global interests while promoting sovereignty,” and in pursuit of this, has found allies with the Republic of Korea, Germany, and China. 

As a moderated caucus opened, a compromise was reached between the United States and Malaysia. While Malaysia heavily disagreed with changing existing policies that allocated funds to landlocked countries, the United States suggested that a long-term initiative would allow all countries to feel a part of Arctic Sea trade. “For example, when a landlocked is mitigating their environment appropriately , we will slowly give them more access and priority within the region. However, we will also recognize the existing territory controlled by the United States and Canada,” the delegate from the United States said.