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Research Report

Arctic security matters

EDITED BY Juha Jokela
Copyright Date: Jun. 1, 2015
Pages: 85
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-4)
    Antonio Missiroli

    Over the past couple of years, the European security environment has worsened significantly – to the east, the southeast, and the south. The only area that has remained relatively calm and stable to date is the Far North or, seen from the EU, northeast – in and around the Arctic. This may appear somewhat counterintuitive, as littoral countries include only Russia and NATO members. All relevant players, however, have so far displayed restraint and tried to insulate and decouple the Arctic region from the tensions arising elsewhere between Moscow and the West. But things may still change, in the light...

  2. (pp. 5-8)
    Juha Jokela

    The Arctic region is undergoing major and rapid transformation, both environmentally and economically. In recent years climate change has had a profound impact on Europe’s Far North: temperatures in the region are rising up to two or three times faster than the global average, and causing significant distress to critical marine and terrestrial ecosystems and nature-based livelihoods. The impact of melting ice and snow caps has also led to a new focus on the region’s economic potential, especially in view of the prospect of faster shipping routes, and the estimated vast deposits of hydrocarbons and growing fish stocks. Even if...

  3. Part One

    • (pp. 9-20)
      Gerald Stang

      For a region with such harsh climatic conditions, the Arctic is a fragile place. Over the last 60 years, it has warmed substantially, and over the next 60 years it will heat up considerably more, leading to significant physical, ecological, economic and social changes.¹ But the pace and degree of warming that will take place remains uncertain. Reducing the amount of disruption and damage to ecosystems and human lives therefore requires rapid and effective action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, no matter how quickly the world cuts back on emissions, a significant amount of global climate change (and Arctic...

    • (pp. 21-32)
      Kathrin Keil

      The increasing accessibility of the Arctic Ocean due to rapidly shrinking sea ice (as outlined in the previous chapter) has sparked growing interest in exploiting the region’s natural resources. These concern predominantly:

      the conventional offshore oil and gas resources located on the continental shelves of the five Arctic coastal states; and

      the development of new fishing grounds in established northern fishing areas in Arctic countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZ), and potentially also in hitherto untapped areas in the international waters of the high Arctic Ocean.

      The projected economic development of the region also has major implications for the possibility of...

  4. Part Two

    • (pp. 33-42)
      Juha Jokela

      The challenges and opportunities embedded in the Arctic transformation discussed in the previous section have led to increasing regional and sub-regional cooperation as well as recognition of the value of coordinated international arrangements for dealing with Arctic matters. As a result, a somewhat fragmented landscape of multilateral Arctic cooperation has emerged. While developments during the last 20 years attest to growing interest in strengthening the existing governance structures, some overlaps and gaps in international regimes remain a feature of Arctic political cooperation. This chapter will map out and discuss the most relevant arrangements and institutions in Arctic governance with reference...

    • (pp. 43-50)
      Mikkel Runge Olesen

      In 2008 Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark,² Norway, Russia and the US (the Arctic Five) agreed on the Ilulissat Declaration. The declaration confirmed the commitments of each of the five to adhere to UNCLOS and to the orderly settlement of disputes and overlapping territorial claims.³ Thus far they have kept their word. And the 2010 agreement on the Barents Sea between Norway and Russia stands out as an example of such successful cooperation. However, recent developments, especially connected with the Ukraine crisis, highlight the question of whether the proclaimed will to settle overlapping territorial claims and other disputes and other...

    • (pp. 51-56)
      Pavel K. Baev

      Russia’s central role in shaping the security agenda for the Arctic is beyond doubt, but its posture in this respect has changed significantly – and alarmingly – since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis in spring 2014. From the middle of the previous decade, the Kremlin’s Arctic policy had followed a two-pronged strategy: strong emphasis on developing international cooperation on the one hand, and the sustained build-up of military capabilities on the other. Presently, Russia’s interest in building ties with the Arctic neighbours is on the wane, while the intensity of military activities has reached a new high. The climate...

  5. Part Three

    • (pp. 57-68)
      Duncan Depledge

      When the European Security Strategy was published in 2003, the Arctic did not feature as an explicit part of the imagined threat landscape. At that time, even the Arctic states did not regard the Arctic as a source of inter-state tensions or of serious danger to national or international security. For more than a decade after the end of the Cold War, the Arctic was characterised as a zone of cooperation, shaped by shared interests in environmental protection and sustainable development, and institutionalised in circumpolar intergovernmental bodies such as the Arctic Council.

      Over this period, military activity dramatically declined in...

    • (pp. 69-74)
      Alyson J.K. Bailes

      The notion that security has (many) more dimensions than just ‘hard’ military defence has become something of a twenty-first century commonplace. Back in 1994, the Human Development Report of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) identified the economy, environment, food and health as crucial for human survival and welfare, and called for them to be guaranteed at the political (= state), community, and individual levels. In Europe, the term ‘societal’ is increasingly used as shorthand for a similar many-sided security concept adapted to developed societies.

      The EU itself increasingly uses the societal word in contexts such as promoting security research, but...

  6. (pp. 75-78)
    Juha Jokela

    The drivers of Arctic transformation – climate change resulting in higher temperatures and the retreat of ice and snow caps, as well as growing interest by external actors in the economic potential of untapped resources, faster maritime transport routes and rising fish stocks – are bound to gain more momentum. Yet significant uncertainties remain in terms of the impact of climate change and the pace of economic development in this remote region. The ‘known unknowns’ and ‘unknown unknowns’ add to risks and challenges related to the transformation of the Arctic. The potential negative repercussions of thawing permafrost, changes in the...