Following the resignations of Greenlandic Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond and four other ministers due to allegations of misuse of public funds, an extraordinary election was held on 28 November 2014. Under the new leadership of Kim Kielsen, Hammond’s own social-democratic party, Siumut (‘Forward’) won the highest proportion of votes (34.6%), narrowly beating the nationalist/left-socialist party Inuit Ataqatigiit (‘Community of the People’) by a 1.1% margin. Both parties won eleven seats in Parliament. In order to secure the minimum of 16 seats needed to hold power in Parliament, Siumut has subsequently entered into coalition with two of Greenland’s smaller parties – social-liberal Demokraatit (‘Democrat’) and conservative Atassut ('Solidarity'). Both share Siumut’s stance in favour of economic liberalism.
Lill Rastad Bjørst
Every second year the Greenlandic Business Association hosts a two-day conference entitled “Future Greenland” in Nuuk.1 The main theme of this year’s conference was “Growth and Welfare – Scenarios for the Development of Greenland.” The conference had more than 400 participants – mostly from Denmark and Greenland – but the format of the conference seems to be opening up for international business partners. This year’s conference facilitated a dialogue in Greenlandic, Danish and English. Next year even more interpreters will be needed. To strengthen the outreach, the conference was broadcasted live via KNR (Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa – Greenlandic Broad-casting Corporation) to the rest of Greenland which made the confer-ence even more impor-tant as a platform for dialogue on the future of Greenland.
The six Indigenous organizations which are the Permanent Participants (PPs) of the Arctic Council (AC) are as varied as the people, geographic regions, and cultures they represent. What they do have in common however is the challenge of representing their constituencies and contributing to the work of an ever expanding AC which in many cases has grown faster than the PPs have been able to adapt.
Indigenous organizations have been involved in international work through entities like the United Nations since long before the AC existed, so given that this voice was present and the growing realization among industry, policy makers, and scientists that Indigenous knowledge could not only be useful, but in many cases was essential to understanding the Arctic. Not only this, but in many cases Indigenous peoples were actually land owners and rights holders in the Arctic, and so consultation, negotiation, and agreement with the people who lived on the land was often a matter of law.
In October 2015, the eight Arctic states will send their heads of coast guard or equivalent official delegation to the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, where the Commandant of the Coast Guard will host a ceremonial summit and the Arctic Coast Guard Forum (ACGF) will be formally launched. A terms of reference document that outlines the basic framework of the ACGF will be finalized at the summit signatory meeting, and this will serve as the foundation for a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC). The MOC will become the non-binding document that establishes the ACGF as an international body with rules and organizational responsibilities.
This moment will mark the advancement of a commitment on the part of all Arctic states to cooperate at the operational level in the maritime Arctic. The operational level is where the rubber meets the road: where missions are executed afloat and in port, where helicopters are scrambled, inspections carried out, and incident response units deployed. While high-level diplomacy gets more attention, the kind of inter-service relationship-building at the operational level promised by the ACGF can lead to immediate benefits to Arctic communities and stakeholders.
Clive Tesar, Rod Downie, & Simon Walmsley
In Iqaluit earlier this year, a clutch of ministers from Arctic states welcomed progress made on the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (the ‘Polar Code’), an International Maritime Organization (IMO) instrument to regulate shipping in Arctic and Antarctic waters. The ministers noted that the progress followed “extensive engagement by the Arctic States.” The ministers were right to welcome the progress made. The Polar Code, expected to be implemented in 2017, will for the first time introduce mandatory, polar-specific requirements for cargo vessels over 500GT and passenger vessels operating in polar waters. It is anticipated that it will lead to improved safety in Arctic shipping, with provisions on such things as training for senior officers, the requirement for a polar operations manual and polar operations certificate, and rules for different classes of ships according to their ability to operate in ice. As pointed out in a report commissioned by the Arctic Council’s PAME working group, improved safety measures reduce oil pollution risks. What the ministers did not point out that day is that the Polar Code can still do so much more to reduce the risks of impacts from shipping and protect the Arctic marine environment.
Gail Fondahl & Joan Nymand Larsen
This past year saw the publication of the second Arctic Human Development Report, a decade after the first report was issued. If the first AHDR (2004) provided a baseline of human development, this second report enabled the beginning of temporal comparisons and contrasts across a decade of marked social, economic, cultural and environmental change in the North. Sub-titled “Regional Processes and Global Linkages,” AHDR-II attends to the challenges that globalization, along with climate change, poses to the socio-economic stability and human security of the Arctic population. Synthesizing the extensive literature produced over the past decade, authors also identified key gaps in knowledge that still need to be tackled, as well as important success stories over the past decade.