Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 445

Briefing Note From Ice Law to ICE LAW: Constructing an Interdisciplinary Research Project on the Political-Legal Challenges of Polar Environments Philip Steinberg & Kate Coddington This briefing note reports and reflects on the ICE LAW Project (the Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene, and the World), a venture convened by IBRU, the Centre for Borders Research at Durham University with the support of the UArctic Thematic Network on Arctic Law. In June 2014, twenty-two scholars with expertise in cultural anthropology, state theory, political geography, and legal studies gathered to consider the challenges that ice – and particularly the sea ice of the polar regions – poses to regulatory norms and political institutions based on a Western legal framework that assumes a clear, permanent, and experienced division between solid land and liquid water. In this briefing note, we describe the process of constructing an interdisciplinary research project based on the geophysical complexities of ice, report on the results of the 2014 workshop, describe the interdisciplinary methodological approach constructed, and outline further research endeavours. In addition, we reflect on a number of research challenges posed by the project: How can one examine general characteristics of polar environments while acknowledging the specificity of inhabited (i.e. Arctic) regions? How can a research focus on one element (sea ice) be paired with acknowledgment of the complex ways in which livelihoods cross between polar surfaces? How can one identify regulatory gaps and inform practical solutions while advancing conceptual understanding? How can a focus on the Arctic be used to address broader global challenges amidst unprecedented anthropogenic transformation of the global environment? Introduction Although the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (United Nations 1982) is universally recognised as providing the fundamental governing framework for the ocean Philip Steinberg is Professor in the Department of Geography, Durham University and Kate Coddington is Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Geography, Durham University. They are both located at IBRU: the Centre for Borders Research at Durham University, where they coordinate the ICE LAW Project.