Two competing conceptions of the Arctic Ocean have circulated since the infamous planting of a Russian flag on the bottom of the seabed in 2007. Ideas of a “scramble for territory” depended on accepting that the Arctic Ocean was a terra nullius, or belonging to no one. The Danish-sponsored Ilulissat Declaration of May 2008 was an explicit rejection of that Arctic vision. Using the Law of the Sea, it outlined the sovereign rights of the five coastal states. This essay argues that the Declaration was an important pre-emptive strike against growing global interest in the Arctic, and a determination to re-territorialize the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic Council, as the leading inter-governmental organization, remains critical in helping to politically mediate the interests of Arctic and non-Arctic parties.