Law Forum: “New Arctic Geopolitics"

Dr. Lassi Heininen prof. at University of Lapland in Finland and chairman of the Northern Research Forum (NRF) had a presentation called: “New Arctic Geopolitics – toward more global cooperation, or back to national approach?” at the University of Akureyri.

By environmental awakening and international environmental cooperation, and the consequent growing intergovernmental as well as regional cooperation by non-state actors, the Arctic region became a new cooperative region in the early-1990s.

In the beginning of the 21st century the major themes, or trends, of circumpolar geopolitics and IR were increasing circumpolar cooperation by Indigenous peoples’ organizations and sub-national governments; modern region-building with nations as major actors; and a new kind of relationship between the Arctic and the outside world. Ten years later the Arctic is still stable and peaceful, and the last trend plays more important role, since there is a growing global interest, accelerated by climate change, toward the region and its natural resources.

Followed from this, a multifunctional, global and complex change has entered at the Arctic on one hand, and on the other hand, the region plays more strategic role in world politics. This goes beyond classical point of view of state hegemony, and that of conflict – cooperation relationship, and creates more global and critical approaches of geopolitics. Here the Arctic states much prioritize economic and other national interests, as well as the littoral states (of the Arctic Ocean) also emphasize state sovereignty. These states behave like they are hesitating to go further, or are afraid of globalization, or they are simply running out of new ideas.

This presentation describes recent changes in Arctic geopolitics and Northern security based on national strategies and policies (of the Arctic states), and discusses on how security is (re)defined in the entire North. Final, it points that there in Arctic geopolitics is a dilemma: either to go further toward more global and deeper international, multilateral cooperation, or back to the narrow and national(istic) approach of the state-politics. 

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