Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 317

317 Arctic Yearbook 2015 been resolved – a circumstantial dependency of which the applauded Norwegian-Russian Barents Sea delimitation was a case in point (Henriksen & Ulfstein 2011). Ratification of UNCLOS is still outstanding for the ‘last reluctant Arctic power’, the USA (Huebert 2009); although, their signing of the 2008 Ilulissat Declaration arguably confirmed the state’s commitment thereto. Nonetheless, the 2008 meeting of the five Arctic coastal states, excluding Iceland, Sweden, and Finland on the basis of UNCLOS’ supposed irrelevance to their specific relationships to the Arctic region, caused a political hubbub (see e.g. Dodds & Ingimundarson 2012). As with the region writ large, defining precisely where the Arctic Ocean begins and ends is no straight-forward task, not least as currents and fish stocks move Arctic waters. When the five states again met exclusively in 2015 in order to negotiate and sign a declaration on fishing in the Arctic Ocean, this was, unsurprisingly, met with Icelandic criticism. As their authorities stated, fishing in Arctic Ocean international waters concern them perhaps more than most other Arctic (and non-Arctic) states. Furthermore, according to their statement, an Arctic Ocean EEZ was clearly not a condition for participation, as Norway does not fit that description either (I.M.F.A. 2015). The latter point is also one of some controversy, as the details of Norwegian sovereignty over Svalbard and its surrounding waters are laid down in the 1925 Svalbard Treaty; that is, a treaty made before UNCLOS, and importantly, extended continental shelf delimitation-rules were agreed upon. Whereas the Treaty establishes all signatories’ rights to conduct activity on the archipelago, the exact conditions of this once more became a topic of debate when the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin landed on Svalbard in April, despite prohibition of entrance to Norway due to political sanctions (BBC 2015). Albeit strongly criticised by the Norwegian authorities, the incident illustrated the inherent ambiguity and interpretative nature of Arctic Ocean matters and international law more generally, as well as the question of appropriate enforcement. The ostensibly indisputable scientific-legalistic basis of which UNCLOS is portrayed as an objective framework thus retains much of its power in precisely the voluntary and advantageous nature of adherence thereto; even constructing a hierarchy among the A8 of which five are further privileged. Moreover, UNCLOS has been highly successful in motivating interstate cooperation reaching further and deeper than the surface of formal diplomacy, such as necessitating scientific collaboration on seafloor mapping in order to make submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (Dodds 2010; Numminen 2010). Thus, the promotion and performance of UNCLOS towards particularly non-Arctic states interested in the region – such as the large states India and China – simultaneously constrain and enable the Arctic states’ own political practices in the region. The Arctic Council With UNCLOS providing the legal pillar of Arctic governance, the Arctic Council (AC) serves as its political counterpart: an intergovernmental forum for cooperation. In addition to the noted eight member states with territories north of the Arctic Circle, the AC also includes six indigenous peoples’ organisations as ‘Permanent Participants’, who have to be ‘consulted’ on all matters (Graczyk 2011; Koivurova & Heinämäki 2006). Other states and stakeholders may apply to observe – as an increasing number of states have done in recent years. As such, they are not party to decision-making, but may, of course, observe decisions being made and actively partake in working groups and projects (Graczyk & Koivurova 2014). Since its inception in 1996, the AC has evolved from a primarily environmentally Medby