Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 195

Inter-Parliamentary Institutions & Arctic Governance Michał Łuszczuk The participation of inter-parliamentary institutions in the processes of international cooperation, especially in the processes of regional governance in almost all parts of the world, has been expanding in the last few decades. The Arctic region too can be praised for the existence of a number of such entities, such as the Conference of Arctic Parliamentarians, the Barents Parliamentary Conference, the Nordic Council and the West-Nordic Council. This paper aims to provide, for the first time, a comparative analysis of the activities of these bodies in regards to their participation in the Arctic governance system, focusing in particular on the relations and links between the inter-parliamentary institutions and the Arctic Council. The paper ends with a reflection on the forthcoming role of such institutions in the future development of multidimensional cooperation among Arctic and non-Arctic nations as well as the threat of a possible democratic deficit in the Arctic. Introduction One of the manifestations of the changes taking place in the Arctic over the last few years is the transformation of regional governance understood as structures of authority that manage collective regional problems (Elliott & Breslin 2011). The number of its participants has increased, the range of subjects of cooperation has expanded, and the the rules and mechanisms that constitute it have been refined (Pelaudeix 2015; Exner-Pirot 2012; Graczyk & Koivurova 2014; Molenaar 2012). Although the foundations of the governnance strutures, where the Arctic Council plays a central role, were shaped at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, its subsequent functioning is generally quite highly rated in terms of normative design and institutional preformance (Young 2005; Koivurova & VanderZwaag 2007). For example, according to some authors, “(B)y international standards, the Arctic region has been a leader by constantly pushing the edges of governance innovation” (Poelzer & Wilson 2014: 183). One of the most important patterns of this ‘governance innovation’, has been the considerable participation of non-state actors in regional cooperation, and especially a unique status granted to indigenous people in the Arctic Council (AC) (Koivurova 2010; Young 2009; Duyck 2012; Stępień 2013; Graczyk 2011). Michał Łuszczuk is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce and Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations, Maria Curie Sklodowska University in Lublin.