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The Role of the Arctic Council from an International Law Perspective: Past, Present and Future

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online
Author:
Yoshinobu Takei
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Established in 1996, the Arctic Council has played an essential role in promoting pan- Arctic cooperation on various issues concerning the Arctic. Increasingly, its activities have contributed to the development of international law relating to the Arctic in terms of law-making and implementation. Recent developments make it pertinent to investigate the possibilities and challenges faced by the Arctic Council in developing legally binding instruments and otherwise contributing to the development of international law relating to the Arctic. How has the Council been engaged in activities that contribute to the development of international law? What factors have affected these activities?

This article describes the structure of the Arctic Council and its status under international law; analyzes important developments relating to this issue in the period before the 2009 Ministerial Meeting held in Tromsø, Norway; examines the processes in which two legally binding instruments were negotiated and eventually adopted as well as elements common to these agreements; and discusses Arctic Council processes relevant to the development of international law other than treaty negotiations under its auspices.

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