Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 392

392 Arctic Yearbook 2014 UK’s strongest tools and also a major variable – will this activity expand as the UK gives higher priority to Arctic security, or decline for economic reasons? A more general weakness, if the paper was meant to fulfil some functions of a ‘strategy’ without the name, lies in its lack of any explicit discussion of or blueprint for ways to mobilize the various British actors involved. The US and Russian strategies - admittedly facing bigger coordination challenges - devote much space to ‘who does what’, while the smaller nations Finland, Iceland and the Faroes also explicitly address coordination in their strategies, and the Faroese paper includes interesting thoughts about optimizing non-state contributions. The general tone of the document also has a bearing on its adequacy. It has been suggested above that the treatment of new economic activity is too ‘light’ or laisser-faire in nature. While critics have seen it as underplaying the ecological impact of business (to which might be added social implications and other aspects of human security), the British document also arguably says too little about regulatory possibilities including self-regulation, and the accompanying safety risks (accidents, pollution, fragile infrastructures etc). Yet more nationalistic observers might also ask if it does enough to assert British interests and to signal where the UK must take a distinctive stand. By comparison, the German strategy has robust sections insisting on ‘freedom of shipping’ (where it echoes EU language) and ‘freedom of research’.51 All these particularities of the British document could be explained by its tactical aim as posited above, namely to conciliate the Arctic states (especially the larger ones) and project a ‘model observer’ image. But while they may help the UK to go on playing its role in the AC (and bilaterally) without making enemies, they have clearly not enhanced the UK image with all important constituencies, and may fall short of boosting the UK’s actual influence on Arctic outcomes. A final question is prompted by the planned referendum on Scottish independence in September 2014:52 does the UK strategy adequately reflect the interests of Scotland or indeed, any other part of the realm with particular Arctic connections? Obviously, it is Scotland that lies nearest the Arctic and would be the first port of call for any new shipping routes transiting the North Sea. It is more affected by patterns of Arctic weather and is more likely to be involved (including its rescue services and the armed forces stationed there) in any major civil accident in Arctic waters. Some Scottish economic interests are also particularly strong: a 2004 report found that with less than 9% of the UK’s population, Scotland lands 62% of its fishing catch.53 Conversely, Scotland has societal and human knowledge, notably of the impact of nearby offshore oil/gas development on remote areas (like Shetland), that could be of interest to nations like the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland now starting to develop their own fields. None of these points is made in the 2013 UK document, and there seems to be some merit in the discussion – launched in academic circles,54 but also under consideration by the devolved government authorities in Edinburgh – over whether Scotland can and should (under any constitutional scenario) develop an Arctic strategy of its own. Conclusions The UK Arctic policy document of October 2013 adds a new shade to the rainbow of existing Arctic strategies and strategy-equivalents, casting into clearer relief some distinctions among the states involved. Alongside the existing categories of littoral states, Arctic Council members, and interested great powers, it creates a self-styled class of ‘neighbour’ – a neighbour, in this case, Bailes