The Arctic Council at 15 Years: Edging Forward in a Sea of Governance Challenges

David VanderZwaag

Abstract


With the impacts of climate change on the Arctic, including the thinning and decreasing extent of sea ice and projected dramatic increases in access to and development of regional resources, the adequacy of existing governance arrangements for the Arctic is increasingly being questioned. Through a two-part format, this article reviews how the Arctic Council is faring as the key regional governance institution for the Arctic since being established pursuant to a Declaration adopted by the eight Arctic States in September 1996. How the Council has edged forward the regional cooperation agenda through its six working groups and Ministerial meetings is first described. The recent governance innovation of establishing task forces to negotiate regional instruments on search and rescue and emergency preparedness and response is highlighted. The paper then turns to provide an overview of key challenges confronting the Arctic Council: fully implementing existing commitments and recommendations; completing the Arctic Council's restructuring; addressing future governance of ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction in the Arctic; and strengthening the 'Arctic voice' in international fora.

Keywords


Environmental Law; International Law

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