Imagining the Arctic: International Law, Governance, and Relations in the High North
Michigan State International Law Review, Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 599-624, 2016
26 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2016 Last revised: 17 Jan 2020
Date Written: June 1, 2016
The Arctic is defined by change. Many understand this through the region’s biannual shift between frozen deserts of snow and ice and warmer and highly productive ecosystems. Others know this through the great effect that climate change is having on the circumpolar north. But beyond physical transitions, dynamism is also the name of the game when it comes to how we conceive of and approach the Arctic through international law, politics, and policy. Is the Arctic an expanse of unclaimed territory and resources to be scrambled for; a chance at indigenous self-determination; a rare enclave of untouched nature needing protection; or another contentious arena along the deepening rift between Russia and the West? To varying extents it is all of these. This article outlines the deep intertwining of perceptions of the Arctic with the development of international law and relations, regional governance, and policy.
Keywords: International Law, Arctic, Russia, Foreign Policy, Regional Governance, Arctic Council, Indigenous Rights, International Security, International Relations
JEL Classification: K33, F55, F63
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation