Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 321

321 Arctic Yearbook 2015 The particular role thereby constructed for Norway through its Arctic statehood, as based on the present regime of governance, was one of unquestionable need for presence and leadership. In other words, for the Norwegian state officials, being an Arctic state grants political status, legitimacy, and leverage – both internationally and domestically. Furthermore, this identity of Arctic statehood was reified and internalised by linking it to pre-conceived notions of the very core of what it means to be Norwegian – rooted in a re-interpretation of history, a coastal identity, and supposedly national values. This, in turn, constructs a specific self-perceived role for the country at the state-level; a state identity that simultaneously enables and constrains political behaviour in the Arctic region and beyond. Conclusion As the Arctic region is attracting ever more attention from near and afar, alarming headlines casting doubt on the stability of regional governance appear with increasing frequency. Sensationalism remains persistent despite the repeated reassurances from both political and academic pundits of the strength of the current regime of governance, resting on the mutually reinforcing pillars of international law: UNCLOS; and international diplomacy: the Arctic Council. Arguably, strictly material or strategic explanations of states’ relative benefits of regime adherence are unsatisfactory in explaining the durability of current governance mechanisms. Significant as these weights and balances no doubt are to states’ leadership, it is also necessary to consider the importance of discourses of state identity in legitimising or de-legitimising specific political practices in the region. Using the example of one Arctic state with particular gains to be made from its status as such, Norway illustrates how Arctic statehood may be internalised as a seemingly inherent element of the state’s ‘identity’. In other words, how those representing the state – officials at the state-level – adopt a particular understanding of the country’s role in the Arctic region and