As the Arctic grows in significance and complexity both regionally and globally, stakeholders have a growing need for high quality and up-to-date assessments of the events and processes that are shaping the regional political landscape. The Arctic Yearbook, to be launched in October 2012, will be the preeminent repository of critical analysis on the region, with a mandate to inform observers about the state of Arctic geopolitics and security. It will be an international and interdisciplinary peer-reviewed publication.

The Arctic Yearbook contributions will be analytically, rather than theoretically, driven and will contribute to regional strategies and policies. The audience for the Arctic Yearbook is broad and will include regional stakeholders and policymakers from government, indigenous peoples, business, academic and media. The content will cover issues of regional governance, state sovereignty and relations, cross-border cooperation, human security, military security, indigenous interests, sub-national interests, environmental concerns and economic development in the Arctic region.

The launch of the first issue – Arctic Yearbook 2012 – coincides with the 25th anniversary of Mikhail Gorbachev’s famous Murmansk speech, which first paved the way for regional and international cooperation in the Arctic on many fields. Much has happened in the Arctic since 1987, as the Arctic region has evolved from an area with virtually no international relations to one with institutions, treaties and established multi-lateral and multi-level cooperation. The next 25 years will be decisive for the region, and what will happen in the Arctic will be crucial for the entire planet; the Arctic Yearbook will be there to document and analyse the state of Arctic geopolitics and security, and further contribute to crafting strategies and policies capable of addressing the key issues.

became the ultimate objective and outcome. There are, however, many residual challenges including land claims by northern indigenous peoples; maritime border disputes; asymmetric environmental conflicts; and the challenge of ever-present military structures, such as nuclear weapons systems. There is also growing pressure for increased extraction and use of energy resources. Two significant developments that go beyond traditional Arctic geopolitics and security have arisen: first, important environmental, geo-economic and geopolitical changes within globalization have occurred in the Arctic; and second, the region’s geo-strategic importance is increasing in world politics, due primarily to the newly emerging maritime space. These changes indicate that the region has evolved in many ways since 1987, and reflect the fact that many of the initiatives put forward in President Gorbachev’s Murmansk speech have been implemented.

The positions, both in behavior and foreign policies, of the Arctic states have also changed. Such changes occurred most notably after the end of the Cold War, when the Arctic Council became the major forum for international dialogue and cooperation on Arctic non-military issues (with key Indigenous Peoples’ organizations’ contributions); and in the past five years, as the Arctic states have put more strategic emphasis on state sovereignty and other national interests, much linked to energy security and climate change. This evolution is confirmed through the intentions of the five (A-5) littoral states of the Arctic Ocean to use all legal rights available to them (e.g. UNCLOS) to make submissions for sovereign rights to maritime resources on the shelves of the Ocean, and/or holding exclusive meetings to discuss such issues. A reflection of these new positions, as well as response to the multifunctional change(s), is that each of the eight Arctic states (A-8) have in a short time period produced Arctic strategies or policies “for” the circumpolar north, therefore setting and promoting their national priorities. Among the common features of those strategies is that all states seek to be, or intend to become, an influential actor (or major “global” leader/power) within the Arctic and in northern affairs; and that world-wide and global perspectives are little discussed in most of the strategies.

This article includes a summary of these Arctic strategies and state policies, and compares their priorities and policy objectives. It also discusses how the strategies and state policies as well as their priorities reflect the six initiatives of the Murmansk speech.

“The Arctic is ‘Hot’ - Why? – Popularized Geopolitics, the Media and the North”
by Heather Nicol and Tim Querengesser (Trent University, Canada)

In the era of climate change, the Arctic has been constructed as an ‘icy treasure trove’ fraught by geopolitical conflict over emerging natural resource and territorial claims by most media sources associated with North America, European, British and Russian presses. In some cases the media from those “outside” countries which have no clearly defined Arctic territories or interests have also participated in projecting the region in this way. On the other hand, many others, including scholars and policy-makers with experience in Arctic affairs (from Arctic and non-Arctic states), have been much more cautious, and tend to promote a less contentious and overtly state-centred and geopolitically aggressive understanding of the impact of climate change. They focus upon issues of human security, the implications of the changing dimensions of regional co-operation, and the challenges which climate change brings to human populations which now reside there, and have done so for centuries.

The ‘disconnect’ embedded in the very different nature of these two discourses is more than an interesting problem for understanding the workings of popularized geopolitics, although questions pertaining to this issue remain important. It also speaks to the need for a critical examination of the nature of geopolitical discourses themselves, and their efficacy in organizing the ‘fact’ of climate change as a ‘naturalized’ explanation for the landscape of current security and international relations in the North. This article examines the intersection between geopolitical discourse, media texts, popular renderings of “the North” in an era of climate change, and the cultural images which are currently regionalization, climate change and energy/resource interests in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. It explores what might be considered by some to be to be an emerging, yet over-determined and uncritical round of "naturalized" geopolitics", framing territorial and regional geopolitical issues.

The article suggests that the positioning of the circumpolar North as a special place created by media discourses responding to ‘naturalized geopolitical discourses’ detracts visibility from the geopolitically constructed specificity of the region and its place within broader regionalized, nationalized and globalized processes. Media accounts, although referencing neoliberal ‘globalization’ and advocating the re-territorialization of the North as an international space or even global commons, remain state-centred and embedded within normative assessments of international order and power. Of special interest is how current popularized versions of naturalized northern geopolitics presume the inevitability of processes created by new territorial configurations rooted in energy and natural resource accessibilities, created by general processes of climate change. Little is said by these popular discourses, however, about how the geopolitical frames which re-enforce desired geopolitical outcomes or which create the potential for specific rounds of investment in primary and resource extraction industries at the global level.

“The Arctic Environment over 25 years: Shifting, By Sided, and New Emerging Environmental Issues”
by Andréa Finger-Stich (Switzerland)

In Murmansk in 1987, Michael Gorbachev stated that, "the North European countries could set an example to others by reaching an agreement on establishing a system to monitor the state of the natural environment and radiation safety in the region. We must hurry to protect the nature of the tundra, forest tundra, and the northern forest areas." What have been the changes in environmental perceptions, policies and various actors’ strategies of actions since?

The Arctic environment 25 years ago was perceived mainly as the Far North affected by distant modern civilization. Environmental concerns included Arctic haze, depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, accumulation of persistent organic pollutants in Arctic mammals, concentration of radioactive pollution, and hazards related to the presence of armament and military activities in the Arctic.

Twenty-five years later, the Arctic environment is increasingly perceived as the tipping point of global change, as the particularly rapid warming of the Arctic climate and ocean correlates with the pressure for extracting fossil fuels from quite recently discovered and accessible Arctic reserves. This “paradox of the Arctic” shifts the circumpolar North to the center of global concerns. Furthermore, sensible perturbations in Arctic ecosystems and related biodiversity loss already affect regional livelihoods and indigenous peoples’ lifestyles.

Who addresses these diverse new concerns and what has happened with the environmental issues raised 25 years ago? This article will analyze how environmental issues are integrated in Arctic institutions and, considering who pursues which strategies, will conclude on what can be done to pursue more effective environmental policies concerning the Arctic.

“New Directions for Governance in the Arctic Region”
by Heather Exner-Pirot (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)

In the past fifteen years, Arctic regional governance has been dominated by the slow, consensus-style politics of the Arctic Council. Legal frameworks have tended to be developed nationally, bilaterally and internationally (e.g. UNCLOS and Stockholm Convention), but almost never regionally.

The Arctic Council Ministerial in May, 2011 marked a departure from this pattern. Most significantly, the eight Arctic states signed the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic, the first hard law convention signed through the Arctic Council. A permanent secretariat for the Council was established, confirming the growing importance of circumpolar politics in national foreign affairs departments. And a polar shipping code, developed through the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), moved closer to reality.

This paper will evaluate the current regional governance landscape in the Arctic and assess the significance of these new developments as the region heads down a path of growing institutionalization.

“Shipping and Resources in the Arctic Ocean: Comparing the Northwest, Northeast and Transpolar Passages”
by Willy Østreng (Ocean Futures, Norway)

The article compares the shipping conditions (patterns) along the Northeast, Northwest and Transpolar passages through a state of the art analysis. The concept of sailing conditions is defined at the intersection of a variety of interacting and interdependent factors such as geopolitics, military affairs, global warming, sea ice melting, international economic trends, resources, competing modes of transportation, environmental challenges, logistics, ocean law and regulations, corporate governance, jurisdictional matters and rights of indigenous peoples. Thus, the study is multi-and interdisciplinary in orientation and approach, opting to define the complexity of operational parameters at work in these unique waters. The comparisons are conducted to provide an imagery of what the state of the art of regional shipping is for the Arctic Ocean as such, for the individual passages and for each of the interacting navigational factors. Within the Passages, three types of sailing routes are being addressed: Intra-Arctic routes, i.e. sailing lanes between locations within the Arctic, destination-Arctic routes, i.e. sailing lanes between harbors inside and outside of the region and transit routes, i.e. sailing lanes between harbors in the Pacific and the Atlantic via the Arctic Ocean. The article also comprises three transportation corridors in southern waters connecting the Arctic Passages to world markets: the Northern Maritime Corridor, connecting the Northeast Passage to the European continent and to the east coast of the USA, the “Northern Pacific Corridor”, connecting the Northeast Passage, the Trans Polar Passage and the Northwest Passage to Asian markets and the western coast of North America, and the “Fram Corridor” between Greenland and Svalbard, connecting the Trans Polar Passage to the North Atlantic.

“France: A Distant Arctic Power?”
by Joël Plouffe (UQAM, Canada)

In March 2009, former French Prime Minister, Michel Rocard, was appointed by President Nicolas Sarkozy as “Ambassador of France for International Negotiations of the Arctic and the Antarctic”. According to Rocard, the “at large” diplomatic position was created to “take care of polar problems” since “the Arctic Ocean is now the summit of all global conflicts […], a zone of lawlessness where anywhere and anyone can do anything”. Since then, the French Polar Ambassador has embarked on an international crusade, toning down his rhetoric, while stating in various international forums that the future of Arctic governance should be globally designed to reflect the interest(s) of global actors (not only the Arctic states), therefore suggesting increased implications by French policymakers in Arctic politics.

This article suggests that France is giving new meaning and values to the Arctic region through its foreign policy discourse, articulated not only by the Polar Ambassador but also by an emerging Arctic political/diplomatic elite that appeared silent or non-existent at the end of the Cold War. It looks at how the French have developed a new “Grandeur” relationship (and strategy) with the Arctic space (political and economic) by enlarging a state-centered discourse that corresponds to contemporary French ambitions and interests when dealing with (mostly) the High North. In this way, it looks at how and suggests why various dimensions of the narrative have been organized during the past 10 years via economic, political and diplomatic engagements. While reflecting the national interest, this rapprochement with the Arctic region appears to create a sense of inclusiveness for France, a G8 and NATO power, in regard to an “exclusively defined” and rapidly evolving powerful neighborhood. This process promotes national security in a competitive globalized and fast evolving (and often uncertain) geopolitical circumpolar setting.

This paper is divided into three parts. It first describes how geopolitical perceptions have shaped the French narrative and policy decisions. Second, it looks at how the opposing narratives of potential conflict versus “neighbourhoodness” in the Arctic have fuelled Grandeur thinking in Paris, resulting in an unprecedented French northern foreign policy strategy. Finally, it seeks to assess the impacts of such an approach on the French national interest by verifying if and how the Arctic promotes France as a world power.

“The Arctic of Transnationals”
by Matthias Finger (MIR, Switzerland) and Jussi Huotari (University of Lapland, Finland)

Economic activities in the Arctic play an increasingly important role in the world economy, as this economy is based on large-scale resources exploitation (oil, gas, mineral resources), as well as trade and thus long-distance transport of resources and goods (e.g. shipping). The Arctic appears to be one of the last “frontiers” of resource exploitation for markets located outside of the Circumpolar North. Such exploitation is actually made possible because of global warming and thus receding ice. Both phenomena also facilitate the opening up of new sea routes across the Arctic, thus considerably shortening maritime transport times and costs.

In other words, the Arctic has become part and parcel of economic globalization. And such economic globalization is typically driven by transnational corporations (TNCs), in our particular case of TNCs in the areas of oil, gas, minerals, and maritime shipping. Yet, many of these TNCs are actually government-backed or even government-owned, as energy and mineral resources, as well as shipping activities are of strategic importance to governments and nation-States. Not astonishingly, the biggest oil and gas firms of the Arctic are actually State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), such as Gazprom of Russia and Statoil of Norway.

This article will analyze the respective roles played by both TNCs and SOEs in the Arctic in the areas of oil, gas and minerals exploitation, as well as in maritime shipping. It will in particular examine the relationships of both TNCs and SOEs with the main nation-States active in the Arctic, in particular, Russia, Norway, Canada, the United States, Iceland, Greenland, China, Japan, and Korea. Special attention will be paid to the convergence and/or divergence of firm and government strategies in the Arctic.

“The Barents Border Dispute Between Norway and Russia:
a ‘Happy Ending’ Treaty?”
by Gleb Yarovoy (Petrozavodsk State University, Russia)

It is probably symptomatic of the appearance of the new system of international relations in the European Arctic that the September 2010 Russian-Norwegian Treaty on Maritime Delimitation and Cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean was signed in Murmansk (neither Moscow nor Oslo) where almost a quarter century ago Mikhail Gorbachev held his famous speech. It seemed, at first, that the border Treaty had settled a 44-year dispute between Russia and Norway in a cardinally new style of mutual benefit for both countries and laid down a new framework for advanced multi-layered cooperation in the European Arctic.

In Norway, the Treaty has been ratified unanimously and is considered rather positively, while in Russia a strong debate on the documents’ negative consequences ended up by the ratification by the State Duma only because of the constitutional majority of the United Russia Party.

This article will examine the history of the Russian-Norway border dispute in the Arctic Ocean and analyze the process of the Treaty’s preparation and ratification, while answering the question of why the ratification process and the reaction of the different actors were so different in each country, and identifying who led its development in both Norway and Russia. The article will also assess the long-term effects of the Treaty for both Russian-Norwegian bilateral relations in the entire Arctic region.

Invited Contributors:

Rob Huebert
Whitney Lackenbauer

International Law
Michael Bravo

Indigenous Issues
Jessica Shadian

Olav Stokke