Douglas C. Nord
The Swedish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2011-13 represented a distinctive contribution to the development of an Arctic governance structure in transition. As the last of the Arctic Eight to assume the chair of the body, Sweden sought to follow a leadership approach that endeavored to build consensus and find common ground among members who seemed, at times, to be at odds with one another over several significant Arctic policy issues. During its tenure as chair, Sweden introduced a broad agenda for action on Arctic environmental and sustainable development issues. It also attempted to assist the Council in making some necessary organizational changes to the manner in which it conducted its own affairs. The purpose of this article is first, to describe the specific vantage point of Sweden toward the Arctic and the Arctic Council and second, to discuss the specific initiatives it chose to pursue during its chairmanship. Due attention is also given to some of Sweden's specific organizational efforts to "build a stronger Council" and to overcome barriers to institutional growth and development. Events of the Kiruna Ministerial Meeting are also discussed and evaluated in this context. An assessment is offered of the overall strengths and weaknesses of the Swedish Chairmanship and what may be the most significant features of its legacy.
Douglas C. Nord is Professor of Political Science at Western Washington University, USA and Visiting Professor at Umeå University, Sweden.