Arctic Yearbook 2012
Finger-Stich and Finger
wellbeing and empowerment of Indigenous Peoples and residents of Arctic communities” (Nuuk
Declaration, May 2011).
Shifting Power Relations
Each of the three phases discussed above have had their dominant discourses shaped by particular
actors. Each actor, in turn, had their own specific strategic interest(s). We briefly characterize each of
these interests below:
The five Arctic Ocean rim states affirmed their sovereignty claims over the Arctic oceans’
resources, for their national economic growth and military interests.
The eight states of the Arctic Council increasingly defended regional and global
environmental interests, while simultaneously preventing those interests from constraining
their respective freedom to access national resources in the region.
Non-Arctic states affirmed their commercial and environmental security interests in the
Arctic, including both the European Union (Council of the EU, 2009) and China, which have
applied for permanent observer status in the Arctic Council. (See section on non-Arctic
states elsewhere in this volume.)
Extractive industries’ corporations – be they State-owned or transnational private enterprises
– competed for access to the natural resources.
United Nation’s organizations, notably the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC), and the UN European Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) (and its
five environmental treaties) basically affirmed their member states’ interests and have been
pretty ineffectual given the conflicting nature of these interests.
The Northern Forum, the Barents Euro Arctic Council (BEAC), the Regional Fisheries
Management Organizations and other similar regional associations more basically articulated
interests of regional sustainable development.
Indigenous peoples defended their rights to their ancestral lands, freshwater and marine
living resources, so as to self-determine their livelihoods and identities.
International environmental non-governmental organizations shaped Arctic issues for global
awareness raising campaigns, supporting also their own organizational interests.
Civil society associations considered the more local dimensions of the Artic as an
environmental commons, bringing action home and opposing the degradation of their own
Scientists, mostly from the natural sciences, monitored the changing state of the environment,
assessed the stocks of natural resources, developed technologies and made recommendations
for the various actors represented in the graph below, and also as collective actors (i.e.,
Nordic Council, the European Polar Consortium, the International Polar Year, the
International Program on Climate Change, the International Arctic Science Committee, etc.).
Their interest was also to be able to develop further research activities.