Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 258

258 Arctic Yearbook 2015 eight Arctic states and not linking them to the AC chairs puts in place a system of checks and balances (further strengthened by the use of consensus), which shields the institution from erratic shifting of priorities linked to the domestic interests of the state currently holding the lead office. International institutions, however, do not operate in vacuum. The Arctic Council is no exception to this rule, as it has tried to adapt to the unprecedented attention paid to the Arctic as a result of processes of climate change and globalization. At present, one of the main challenges concerns insulating the Council from the increased international polarization that followed Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Since the Arctic Council is a consensus-based body, the endorsement of its actions by all Arctic states is essential to its continued functioning. On the one hand, the conditions of animosity may significantly reduce the scope of action for the chair and limit its potential to deliver. Yet on the other hand, they may potentially increase the importance of the Arctic Council chair in brokerage, identifying underlying areas of agreement and finding common ways to further cooperation. Notes 1. For a study dedicated solely to the Swedish AC chairmanship see Nord 2013. 2. More on the agenda-shaping power see: Tallberg 2003. 3. Slightly different qualifications for the power of the chair in international cooperation are presented by Tallberg according to whom influence of formal leaders is conditional upon a demand for leadership (so where states cannot come on their own to consensus over the agenda, negotiated text etc.), alternative solutions for leadership (like international secretariats or even influential individuals), decision-making rules governing the conduct of negotiations (the more demanding rule, the lesser space for manouver by the chair) and finally design of the chairmanship (three models described in the main text). 4. As the AC Rules of Procedures stipulate, Chairmanship means the Arctic state which chairs the Arctic Council from the conclusion of a biennial Ministerial meeting to the conclusion of the next biennial Ministerial meeting. However, the term chair in the AC context is often used in relation to the chair of the Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) who is also provided by the country chairing the Council. 5. At that time neither the AEPS nor the Arctic Council were seen in the U.S. as strong tools of foreign policy where, when it comes for example to relations with Russia, other bilateral platforms of cooperation already existed (Russell 1996). 6. One could plausibly argue that the approach taken by the United States towards circumpolar collaboration was to large extent dictated by the overall setting of the 1990s. At the time, the world was clearly unipolar with “[t]he center of world power [being] (...) the unchallenged superpower, the United States, attended by its Western allies” (Krauthammer 1990: 23). Role of the Arctic Council Chairmanship