Michaela Louise Coote
The Arctic Council (AC) is a decision-shaping body and a regional organisation dating back to 1996 (Kankaanpää and Young, 2012). The Council comprises eight Member States (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the US) and includes the voices of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) of the Arctic, through the Permanent Participants (PPs) (The Parliament of the Uk, 2015). The AC is widely seen as providing the best platform for a new, peaceful and collaborative form of Arctic governance (Stokke, 2014).
IPs have lived in the Arctic for thousands of years, managing local resources in a sustainable manor and adapting quickly to environmental changes (Young et al., 2004). Not only are IPs today seen ideologically as protectors of the Arctic region, and as knowledge holders who could shed new light and provide valuable skill-sets for environmental protection measures, but IPs live on the front lines where they will be most affected by environmental changes (Koivurova, 2008; Nuttall and Callaghan, 2000; Lindroth and Sinevaara-Niskanen, 2013). Traditional Knowledge (TK) is a well-known aspect of Indigenous Knowledge (IK). TK can be understood as a dynamic knowledge system that is holistic and includes a multi-causality framework. TK can be characterised as: “[c]laims of those who have a lifetime of observation and experience of a particular environment… but who are untouched in the conventional scientific paradigm” (Haverkort and Reijntjes, 2010, p. 3).
Environmental changes in the Arctic are a widely studied and debated topic. Coupled with political and business competition, the regime that is being, or should be, set in place to govern the Arctic in the face of such change is also being scrutinised (For example, Stokke and Hønneland, 2006; Berkman et al., 2009, Koivurova, 2010, Young, 2014).
The AC stated the importance of consulting with IPs in its founding Ottawa Declaration (Arctic Council, 1996). The Declaration puts intent and a structure in place for the inclusion of IPs to take part in all levels of its work, including the specialised Working Groups that prepare the bulk of its business. There is therefore prima facie reason to suppose that effective involvement of IPs is important for the quality of the AC’s work and its results, as well as for the peoples themselves. No detailed studies, however, have previously been undertaken to trace and assess what is actually happening in this regard.
This study looked at the role and contribution of the IPs of the Arctic through their representatives, as Permanent Participants (PPs), in the Arctic Council to the work and final outputs of the AC as it grapples with current challenges of Arctic climate change, management and governance. The extent of PPs influence was identified and measured using a qualitative interview process, designed to access information from those who are competent to articulate well-informed views on the IPs’ influence in environmental decision-making in the AC. The study attempted to ascertain what the PPs aims and motivations were and whether the AC structure was satisfactory to allow for their inclusion.
In the Arctic, the thaw of East-West relations in the 1990s led to deeper regional and sub-regional cooperation, and a strengthening of the stability of the region through the establishment of standards. This led in turn to the formation of a patchwork of standards that overlap and intersect: the proliferation of soft law standards was then the only way to put the states and other stakeholders around the table, in a region that has not yet been cleared of past tensions.
Few observers would have predicted that a body which so many limitations would have reached such results in terms of norm-making, considering that the Arctic Council (AC) is only 20 years old. The AC has often been viewed as politically ineffective, with lots of talk but little action on issues relating to its mandates of environmental protection and sustainable development. The AC is very far from being a perfect forum but despite or thanks to its “soft” structure, it offers a large place for local voices, which ensures its legitimacy, and it can better adapt over time by facilitating compromise.
This paper explores the central role of the AC in Arctic norm setting, stressing the specificities of the Council among the wide range of Arctic-norm producers, and demonstrating how its successes are linked to its soft law structure, as a major factor of legitimacy and socialization, and finally of normative power in the Arctic. It is the flexibility of the AC that contributes to its strength. Thus, despite the absence of any ‘hard’ power, the AC is the major norm setting instrument in the Arctic.
Andrew Chater & Mathieu Landriault
In this paper, we study media representations of the Arctic Council in North American national newspapers. The Council is the Arctic region’s foremost international institution, charged to promote environmental protection and sustainable development. Past research on media and the Arctic has focused on public perceptions of the region and its issues. Research on the Council focuses on its role in regional governance. We find that the Council’s outreach efforts are reasonably successful, though there is room for improvement. The overall assessment of the Council in the media is positive and descriptions of its purpose are accurate. However, few articles focus on the Council explicitly. We examine 241 articles about the Council found in six national newspapers, all published between 1996 and 2016. Three measures direct our inquiry. First, the frequency of Council mentions and the occurrences of the Council as primary focus measures issue saliency. Second, descriptions of the Council evaluate whether reporting on the institution is positive and accurate. Third, opinion texts reveal whether editorials and guest columns on the Council are positive or negative. This chapter presents a case to understand the importance of media framing. We concluded that media attention for the Arctic Council increased after 2009, peaking between 2013 and 2015 and that the dominant framing in both countries is that the Arctic Council stands for co-operation amid tension.
In recent years, the Arctic Council has received a growing number of applications from states, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to obtain Observer status. This has generated a diverse commentary about the impact of increased involvement from non-Arctic actors, what influence they could have, and the role that they should play. An underlying assumption in all of these debates is that the Arctic Council has been an exclusive club that now must open its doors to non-Arctic interests and ideas. But is this in fact the case? Has the Arctic Council been a closed forum? The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) is one of six Arctic Council Working Groups. Its mandate is to “monitor and assess the status of the Arctic region with respect to pollution and climate change issues” (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, 2016). Using the AMAP as a case study, this article uses social network analysis (SNA) to visualize the network of experts and officials from Arctic and non-Arctic states that have participated in shaping climate and pollution science prepared for the Arctic Council. This article examines the key features of the AMAP’s networks and uses data available between 1998 and 2015 to consider how these networks have evolved and changed over time. This article finds that actors from non-Arctic states have been present in the work of the AMAP since its inception. Furthermore, there has been a growth in their involvement in the AMAP since 2006; although, non-Arctic actors have remained peripheral in the AMAP networks.
In the past twenty years, the Arctic Council has become the most important international forum for policy making in the Arctic. Another success ascribed to the intergovernmental forum is the inclusion of emerging issues in its work. With regard to the overall circumpolar agenda, Klaus Dodds and Mark Nuttall observed a representational shift and argued that recently issues related to business are increasingly prioritized. The purpose of this article is two-fold: It first examines in how far the agenda of the Arctic Council has shifted similarly. It further addresses the identification of “emerging issues” more generally to discuss how concerns related to business have been introduced in the Arctic Council in the first place. In this regard, the article focuses on priorities set by member states during their chairmanships as member states are widely perceived as agenda-shapers in the Arctic Council and touches on three central questions: What priorities were set under the different Arctic Council chairmanships in the past? Why were these priorities regarded as important in their respective programs? And how were these priorities reviewed in the Arctic Council? To address these questions, this article looks predominantly at official Chairmanship programs, the contextualization of issues related to business and their discussion in Ministerial meetings. In the conclusion, this article offers an assessment of whether or not the Arctic Council is moving from being a forum enforcing environmental cooperation to becoming a “business forum” and discusses the wider implications of shifting agendas in the Arctic Council
As a variety of challenges emerge in the Arctic, the demand for scientific and technological solutions is increasing. Due to the complex nature of the given challenges, cooperation in the fields of science and technology could serve profitable in order to tackle these issues. The impact of cooperation in Science and Technology however exceeds the purely practical dimension; it rather opens opportunities for closer political cooperation as well as requiring diplomatic efforts in order to establish cooperative structures. This chapter assesses the current state and possible future trajectory of scientific and technological cooperation within the Arctic Council by applying the concept of science diplomacy and assesses if scientific cooperation can assist in ameliorating political cooperation by creating an epistemic community. Examples will comprise the development of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy into the Arctic Council as well as the legally binding agreements.