Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 23

23 Arctic Yearbook 2015 International and global governance The Arctic Yearbook is a product of the UArctic and NRF joint Thematic Network on Geopolitics and Security, and so writings on the topic are of particular interest. The year 2015 certainly had its share of geopolitics, and the articles presented here reflect that. Kristen Bartenstein deconstructs the oft-used concept of “commonality”, the framing of the Arctic as somehow a common space. Whereas Arctic states may speak of working towards common goals with their Arctic neighbours, non-Arctic states often characterize the region as a global commons, to which everyone has rights and responsibilities. While the term is used in divergent ways, the author criticizes the fact that states are pushing narratives that position them to gain advantage on the Arctic “chessboard”. As a legal construct, furthermore, the concept of the Arctic as a common heritage is found to be misleading and misguided. Ieva Bērziņa provides an insightful comparison of the way different Russian actors frame Arctic political discourse. As might have been expected, but which has rarely been so carefully documented, there is very different messaging for domestic and foreign audiences. Western analysts would do well to appreciate such nuances, which no doubt apply to the rhetoric adopted by other Arctic states, most notably Canada under the Harper government. Reid Lidow frames the Arctic as one political region among many, and assesses its behaviour and characteristic accordingly. Of particular usefulness in devising, if not a model, then analogue, for the Arctic Council and the region as whole, is ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations, which may provide lessons for enhanced regional Arctic integration. Ingrid Medby provides a case study on the construction of an Arctic state identity, drawing on the example of Norway. An ever larger number of actors have found it advantageous and desirable to identify as “Arctic” – see Barack Obama’s GLACIER speech and visit to Alaska – with Arctic statehood in particular tied to political status, leverage, and legitimacy. The article demonstrates the very constructed and normative nature of the current focus and privileging of Arctic identities. Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen explores the significant advances made in the past year on continental shelf claims in the Central Arctic Ocean, with both Denmark and Russia submitting theirs. The claims process is often articulated as a legal and scientific endeavor. The article reminds us that politics, indeed, are involved, and may prove a wild card going forward. However it seems likely that Canada, Denmark and Russia will continue to follow a peaceful and legal dispute settlement process, benefiting as it does all three of them. Benjamin Schaller examines the current Arctic security environment, including the spillover from the Russian incursion into Ukraine. The article argues that the Arctic states should take additional steps to mitigate fallout from the crisis and its negative impacts on the Arctic, for example through confidence-building measures, ensuring that the Arctic role is not merely that of a sub-plot in European security, but rather a proving ground to restore peace and stability. Commentaries and briefing notes One of the more distinguishing features of the Arctic Yearbook is its platform for stakeholders, policyinfluencers and experts to provide commentary and analysis on events and actors of particular Introduction