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Author: Nigel Bankes

This article examines recent legal developments in the management of human activities in Arctic marine areas and considers the extent to which these developments acknowledge or recognize the rights, roles and interests of Arctic Indigenous peoples. These developments include the negotiation of three treaties under the auspices of the Arctic Council: the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic, (Arctic SAR Agreement), the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Spill Preparedness and Response in the Arctic (Arctic MOSPA), and the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation (Arctic Science Agreement), the adoption of the Polar Code by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and, most recently, the signature of the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean (the CAOF Agreement). It also examines more recent practice under the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears (ACPB).

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online

The changing situation in the Arctic due to global warming has prompted media coverage of a supposed “scramble for the Arctic,” an “Arctic boom,” or an “Arctic Bonanza.” Some even go further, deploying the rhetoric of a “New Cold War,” predicting an inevitable clash between the United States and Russia over interests in the region. The press coverage in both countries over the past decade reflects this new sensationalism. The academic literature unequivocally confirms that the press exerts substantial influence on governmental policy makers, and vice versa. However, while scholars agree that international organizations (IOs) are essential to shaping policies, the existing literature lacks research on media’s relationship with IOs, which often struggle to obtain the coverage and publicity they deserve.

The Arctic Council has provided an effective platform for constructive dialogue and decision making involving the USA and Russia. Accordingly, despite disagreements in other regions of the world, the two global powers have managed to cooperate in the Arctic – notwithstanding recent media coverage painting a different and incomplete picture. This project surveys the media coverage of the Arctic over the past decade in Russia and the USA and its correlation with the Arctic Council’s activities. The analysis draws upon two prominent news organizations in Russia (Kommersant and Izvestiya) and two in the USA (the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal), as well as the Arctic Council’s press releases from June 2006 to June 2017. The paper finds that there is a clear disconnect between media coverage of the region and the Arctic Council’s activities. It recommends that the media pay more attention to the organization, particularly since it is the only prominent platform for international cooperation in the Arctic.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online
In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online

Greenland has rich deposits of natural resources. Some of them could have the potential to be commercially developed. The exploitation of these resources could provide enormous opportunities for Greenland’s economic development.

Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark and enjoys far reaching rights of self-government. The population of Greenland is overwhelmingly Inuit, a people elsewhere recognized as an Indigenous people. The question concerning the exploitation of the natural resources is thus a complicated legal issue.

International law provides indigenous peoples with special rights concerning the natural resources in their territory as referenced in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO Convention 169. The Kingdom of Denmark thus has international obligations regarding free, prior and informed consent.

At the national level, the Self-Government Act includes provisions concerning natural resources, and this area is under the sole competence of the self-government. The Greenlandic Mineral Resources Act includes provisions on participation and consultation processes of local inhabitants. This article discusses whether the Kingdom of Denmark, through the Self-Government Act, lives up to its obligations under international law regarding the rights of the Inuit people in relation to the natural resources in their territory.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online

Global pressure over Antarctic resources will mount in the course of the coming decades. Three factors are likely to motivate states to claim jurisdictional rights or rights to natural resources in Antarctica: climate change, dwindling natural resources in the rest of the world, and the fact that – by virtue of Article IV of the Antarctic Treaty – the question of sovereignty remains unresolved. It is high time to think about the moral dimensions that should shape Antarctic claims in the future. Is there any state or group of states more entitled than others to make such claims? What does sound management of natural resources require? How should environmental concerns factor into decisions about jurisdictional control and appropriation of natural resources?

With these broad questions in the background, in this article I examine four principles of justice that figure prominently in current theories of territorial rights and rights over natural resources in political philosophy: connection, capacity, fair distribution, and need. I show how these principles have been used by states, alone or in tandem, to justify claims to jurisdiction and claims to natural resources in Antarctica. After pointing to their main strengths and weaknesses, I suggest that they may be necessary, but insufficient to build a just framework for jurisdiction and appropriation of resources in the White Continent.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online

This article aims to show to what extent ideas and models from the fields of restorative and transitional justice informed the work of the Greenland Reconciliation Commission. The article demonstrates that the idea of processing the past by articulating experiences of both colonialism and neocolonialism dominated the approach taken, and that consequently the legal aspects were only occasionally touched upon. This sets the Greenland Reconciliation Commission somewhat apart from previous truth and reconciliation commissions.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online

This essay provides an Icelandic perspective on the opening of the Arctic Ocean. It provides an overview of the historic evolution of Arctic shipping divided into three distinct stages: The initial stage was driven by search for alternative shipping routes during the expansionist era of modern Europe. The Soviet stage was driven by Soviet strategic interests during the Cold War. The contemporary stage is driven by new technologies, resource development in the Arctic and tourism. A second section focuses on Iceland’s reaction to climate change linking it to Iceland’s role in the Arctic Council, and the need for action and adaptation. The final section connects the two first sections and highlights Iceland’s potential role in future trans-Arctic shipping. It heralds the beginning of the fourth stage of the evolution of Arctic shipping with the imminent opening of the Arctic Ocean for intercontinental shipping, This stage will be driven by the need for increased connectivity in a globalized economy, decreasing sea ice, capacity constraints of current shipping routes and security concerns

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online