The Keynote Speakers for this year’s symposium include Madeleine Redfern, Mayor of Iqaluit and Chair of the Legal Services Board of Nunavut and Erik Franckx, Professor of Law at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

About the Polar Law Symposia

The Polar Law Symposium originated at the Faculty of Law, University of Akureyri in 2008, alongside the masters programmes in Polar Law. Since then, the core group of researchers has grown significantly and extends around the World. Academics and officials and from all Arctic States are actively involved, alongside specialists in Arctic and Antarctic law from every continent in the World. This will be the fifth time the Symposium will be held in Akureyri, having been held also in Nuuk, Rovaniemi, Hobarts and Alaska.

Proceedings of the Polar Law Symposia are collected and, subject to blind peer review, selected for publication in the Yearbook of Polar Law (Brill. Chief Editors: Gudmundur Alfredsson, University of Akureyri & Timo Koivurova, University of Lapland).

Cooperation with the Arctic Circle Assembly

The Arctic Circle assembly is now entering its 4th year, having been launched in 2013. It is a forum for dialogue on the Arctic that brings together political leaders, business representatives and academia to pursue cooperation in the Arctic. In 2015, it drew nearly 2000 participants from over 50 countries. The Arctic Circle is a unique venue that combines plenary sessions with multiple, diverse “breakout sessions” that give an opportunity to facilitate exchanges of research and innovations between multifarious Arctic stakeholders.
Polar Law breakout sessions at the Arctic Circle have been held every year.

Preliminary Schedule

5th-6th October 2016: Symposium at the University of Akureyri, Iceland
7th-9th October 2016: Breakout Sessions on Polar Law at the Arctic Circle, Reykjavík, Iceland.


Abstracts of up to 200 words accompanied by a short speaker biography should be submitted in word format by 31st March 2016 to

Submissions are particularly encouraged on the following topics:

  • International environmental law at the Poles (including questions concerning transport and the exploitation of natural resources, wildlife management, and wilderness protection)
  • The rights of indigenous peoples (including the application of ILO Convention 169 and the UNDRIP as well as the potential for new instruments such as a Nordic Sami Convention)
  • Local, devolved and indigenous governance (including self-governance and local cross-border contacts and cooperation)
  • Non-State Actors as originators of norms at the Poles (including researchers, IAATO standard setting, corporate best practice, CSR, and insurance requirements)
  • Available and new methods of dispute settlement (in general or in respect of specific existing challenges); Disarmament and demilitarization of the Arctic (including reductions of or restrictions on nuclear and other weapons in the Arctic)
  • The evolution of the Arctic Council and the Antarctic Treaty System (including status in international law, functions and powers, the roles of different kinds of participants, and lessons for other regions)
  • The role of the United Nations and other international organisations and fora at the Poles (including the potential for overlap with the work of Arctic Council and other supranational or regional entities)

9th Polar Law Symposium Organisational Board: Guðmundur Alfreðsson, Ágúst Þór Árnason, Rachael Lorna Johnstone, Timo Koivurova, and Jessica Shadian.