Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 204

204 Arctic Yearbook 2015 processes, (3) economic development, resource extraction, and building potential in the High North, and (4) new challenges in environmental protection in the Arctic. A summary evaluation of the roles and capabilities of the Conference and the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, we must inevitably note that while these institutions indirectly enjoy indirect popular legitimacy and a ‘social mandate’ in Arctic affairs, their role in the Arctic Council is largely limited to that of observers, not inspirers, pacesetters, or commanders. One expression of this relatively weak position is the proposal to organize meetings of the Conference not every two years, but annually, which would allow greater flexibility and clout in its relations with the Arctic Council. The fact remains, however, that relations are sometimes strained, difficult, and hardly congenial, as evidenced in the barring of Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) from participating in the Conference in March 2014 (CPAR 2014). It seems that this is not only a symptom of the ‘intergovernmentalization’ of cooperation in the Arctic, but also a sign of narrowing possibilities of open debate on the future of the Arctic through the vehicle of the Arctic Council. The Barents Parliamentary Conference Although cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region has developed since 1993 primarily on two levels – intergovernmental (Barents Euro-Arctic Council – BEAC) and inter-regional (Barents Regional Council – BRC) – it also encompasses the interparliamentary dimension, as each BEAC chairmanship organizes a Barents Parliamentary Conference (International Barents Secretariat 2015; Hasanat 2010). Because the chairmanships run on two-year periods, the parliamentary conference takes place biennially. The participants of the Conference can be elected members of loca