Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 269

269 Arctic Yearbook 2015 The connotation of benefiting and of burden-sharing both resonate in the debate on Arctic governance. Non-Arctic states clearly voice their interest in the Arctic’s natural resources (cf. EU 2012: 9). Some of the Arctic’s significant deposits of natural resources have been exploited for many years, at least on shore. The 2008 U.S.G.S. report, which estimates that one fifth of the Earth’s undiscovered and recoverable resource deposits of oil and gas are located in the Arctic, further fuelled the nonArctic states’ interest. At the same time, non-Arctic states, in particular members of the European Union, have also expressed concern as to the preservation of the fragile Arctic environment and to the necessity of limiting the risk of pollution and other environmental destruction that increases significantly with growing commercial and industrial activities, such as navigation and resource exploitation (EU 2012: 6; see also Germany 2013: 1). Furthermore, the idea of commonality has strong appeal because it implies natural relatedness to the issue(s) at stake. However, as the distinction between an Arctic and a global perspective of commonality reveals, the notion of relatedness is, in fact, very malleable. When conceived in a global perspective, as by non-Arctic states, commonality suggests inclusiveness, converging interests and coinciding concerns. Consequently, the interest in having a say appears as if it were a natural right: if the Arctic’s development and protection is a global concern, its governance cannot be left to the Arctic states alone. Non-Arctic states indeed mention the physical changes in the Arctic triggered by global warming in the same breath as environmental risks caused by human activity in the Arctic, including resource exploitation and shipping (cf. Germany 2013: 4; EU 2012: 2), which links the issue of global warming to issues that, from a legal viewpoint, are not international issues to the same degree (navigation and research) or even international issues at all (resource exploitation) (LOSC 1982: parts V, VI, VII, XI, XIII). Associating global warming, which undeniably requires global action, with various aspects of Arctic governance arguably intends to tie Arctic governance to global action. The Arctic states’ approach, which seeks exclusiveness, is in stark contrast to this reasoning. Instead of a general, all-encompassing commonality, these states advocate a specific, functional commonality. Their understanding of commonality is selective, as affiliation to the community depends on a set of conditions. Such agreed commonality led to the establishment of the Arctic Council, whose members cooperate upon the (implicit) criterion that they are “Arctic States” given that part of their territories stretch north of the Arctic Circle (Ottawa Declaration 1996). The difficulty with such selective commonality is to identify a politically and legally convincing specificity. While the ‘Arctic Eight’ have similar problems and interests, their Arctic nature does not bestow upon them the same kind of functional commonality shared by the ‘Arctic Five’, i.e. the coastal states (Canada, the United States, the Russian Federation, Norway and Denmark/Greenland). These states’ commonality is indeed rooted in the law of the sea, which invests them with particular powers and rights and, thus, a particular role in the Arctic. This was underscored by the Arctic Five at an exclusive conference held in 2008 in Ilulissat (Ilulissat Declaration 2008). Concerned that the larger Arctic community could be divided and weakened, the remaining three Arctic states disapproved of the conference, as well as of the following Arctic Five conference held in 2010 in