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.
The Arctic Council is currently going through fundamental changes. Despite some criticism since its establishment by the Ottawa Declaration in 1996, the Council has evolved towards an efficient body able to address the emerging challenges and issues posed by the great transformation taking place within and outside the Arctic rim. The Council’s recent reforms have brought important changes to its architecture and jurisdictional capacity. The scope of this article is limited to the analysis of the key areas of the Council’s recent developments and its future in light of current realities.
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.
The scientific assessments of the Arctic Council (AC) have been widely regarded as the most effective products of the AC. Yet, so far comparatively little scholarly attention has been given to this primary area of the Council’s work. This paper examines the most recent assessment work within the Arctic Council. In order to do this, we build on the literature on global environmental assessments to analyze whether this work exhibits design features and is carried out in a way that enhances the potential for AC assessments to be effective. We understand the effectiveness of assessments to influence decision and policy-making in the Arctic Council itself, but we also look beyond its structures. This paper focuses on four case studies: Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA), Arctic Human Development Report-II (ADHR-II), Arctic Resilience Report/Arctic Resilience Assessment (ARR/ARA) and Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic (AACA). Whereas detailed examination of such influence is at this point not possible due to either very short time from their completion (ABA, ADHR-II) or the fact that the projects are still ongoing (ARA, AACA), the analysis of those assessments through the lens of a series of their design features provides us with some guidance in relation to their expected effectiveness in bridging science with decision-making in the AC and beyond. The article finds that whereas different processes exhibit different individual characteristics, all the studied assessments rank from relatively high to very high in terms of how their design may affect their salience, credibility and legitimacy. However, their actual policy influence will depend first and foremost on the political will of those ordering the assessments and wielding decision-making power in the Arctic Council.
Between 1987 and 1997, through an impressive coalition of Nordic governments, the Government of Canada, scientists, environmentalists, foundations and Indigenous groups, the world witnessed the creation of a new body, the Arctic Council, a breakthrough in co-operative Arctic governance. Impressive for the relative speed of its creation, the Council – made up of eight states, six Permanent Participants and several observers – has continued to evolve at a steady pace, and recently became the primary forum for negotiating an Arctic search and rescue treaty.
Many contributed to the creation of the Arctic Council, but insofar as a Canadian contribution, one of the leading drivers of the effort was a skilled group of Indigenous leaders. Aboriginal leaders like Mary Simon, supported by foundations, became the advocates of an Arctic Council that gave unprecedented status to Indigenous representatives to sit at the same table as foreign ministers through the innovation of a Permanent Participant category. This victory for the Indigenous community in the creation of the Arctic Council was an early indication of the growing presence and sophistication of the world’s Indigenous populations. Their current importance, as highlighted by the U.N. Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, has as a precedent the invention of the Permanent Participant membership category of the Arctic Council a decade earlier.
The impacts of climate change as well as the increase of economic activities call for effective governance of the Arctic Region. The Arctic Council is the predominant intergovernmental forum in the region. The rotating chairmanships of the Member States have a defining role in the work of the Council. This paper compares the Arctic Council chairmanship programmes of the five Nordic Countries with the organisation’s outputs following the two-year chairmanship periods as expressed in the ministerial Declarations and the SAOs’ reports. The paper finds that the discourse on the studied topics has developed greatly over time and despite the similarities between the countries’ foreign politics in general, there are some notable differences in the way the countries see the future of the Arctic – for example through the region’s vast natural resources or as a unique environment of the Arctic biodiversity. The conclusion of this research is that even though the chair cannot take all the credit for its accomplishments during the chairmanship period in question, nor can it be blamed for all possible failures, the chair’s work does leave its mark on the Arctic Council’s performance.
The Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council in Kiruna, Sweden in May 2013 received unprecedented coverage in the worldwide media. The main reason behind that attention was triggered by the expected decision of the Council to grant observer status to applicants, including China and the European Union. However, not only countries and entities seeking access to the AC proceedings have been increasingly active in their approach towards the region. Also the ‘old’ observer states to the Council got spurred by recent developments and among them the United Kingdom and Germany were the first ones to set out their overall Arctic policies in fall 2013. This article looks at both documents to examine the vision for the Arctic that both countries bring and proposes to read the texts in light of the rules for observers’ participation in the Arctic Council, which were approved in Nuuk in 2011. It continues with setting them against a broader picture of the involvement of outside actors in the Arctic cooperation.
Over the last three decades, the Arctic and the Arctic Council (AC) have experienced profound changes. Since its establishment in 1996, the AC has evolved significantly in reach and stature; it has expanded its portfolio of projects and instruments, and it has also substantially enhanced its administrative capacities. So far, most studies on the AC have focused on exogenous sources of its change. In contrast, drawing from the general literature on international environmental regimes and gradual institutional change, this paper examines the endogenous factors and properties of the AC and the role they play in enabling or constraining the AC’s institutional change. This reveals that the AC’s setup provides ample space for change agents who, if able to identify windows of opportunity and exploit the inherent openness of the Council’s rules, can establish new precedents that can ultimately influence the course of the AC’s evolution. As such, the analysis draws our attention to previously understudied questions of agency and endogenous sources in the processes of institutional change of the AC. Moreover, as a case study on an informal institution, it is a source of insight and a contribution to the general literature on international environmental regimes, which to date has focused almost exclusively on hard-law and treaty-based institutions.
The Ottawa Declaration of 1996 formally established the ArcticCouncil to address the common concerns and challenges faced by the Arctic governments and their people. The Arctic covers one sixth of the earth's landmass; more than 30 million km2 and twenty-four time zones. It has a population of
around a wealth of territory. Regional forums and institutions defined by territory include the ArcticCouncil, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN ), and the EU , and they have full membership available only for the regional states. 1 Despite the common argument that the ArcticCouncil