The Arctic Ocean is part of the global commons that is under the governance of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and other relevant international conventions developed by the International Maritime Organization.

Singapore was accepted as one of six new observers on the Arctic Council in 2013. To assist the Singapore government in its participation on the Arctic Council and its role to uphold a rule-based playground for Arctic affairs, CIL has undertaken the development of the Arctic Research Programme to build expertise and knowledge of Arctic issues. The Arctic research has been incorporated as one of the three focus areas under the CIL-MPA Research Programme for the years 2016–2019.

CIL’s research in the Arctic is currently focused on the international regulation of shipping, the balance between the rights and interests between the coastal states and the user states, the protection and preservation of the marine environment, and the protection of rights of the indigenous people.