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Rachael Lorna Johnstone is Associate Professor of Law, University of Akureyri, Iceland.
An Arctic Strategy for Scotland
Rachael Lorna Johnstone
As Scotland moves increasingly to assert its position on the international stage, this paper asks whether Scotland
should develop its own Arctic strategy, comparable to those developed by the eight Arctic states and if so, what the
contents of such a strategy might be. This paper will introduce the main reasons why Scotland might pursue an Arctic
strategy, taking into account its international audience, its domestic audience and, not of least importance, the audience
in Westminster. It will identify Scotland’s distinct historical, social, economic and political interests in the Arctic and
show how these differ from the United Kingdom. Some potential contents for a Scottish Arctic strategy are outlined,
with an emphasis on governance and cooperation, economic development, and environmental and scientific cooperation.
The paper concludes that there are both costs and benefits in publishing a formal Arctic strategy, but nevertheless, a
coherent, unified and holistic approach to the Arctic is wanting in Scotland and the Scottish government should begin
by establishing a dedicated Arctic division within its international department to conduct further research into what
Scotland can offer the Arctic and what opportunities the Arctic presents.
Depledge and Dodds (2011) discussed the perspective of the United Kingdom (UK) on the High
North and the potentials for a UK strategy. Elsewhere in this inaugural
Arctic Yearbook,
continues this theme examining potential governmental participants in such a programme. What has
not yet been discussed to any significant degree is the possibility that notwithstanding complacency
in Whitehall, Scotland might develop its own Arctic strategy. Although an intrinsic constitutional
part of the UK, Scotland has quite distinct historical, social, economic and political interests in the
Arctic which will form the subject matter of this article.
Following this introduction, section two will outline in general terms the interests of Scotland in the
High North and the pertinent competencies of the Scottish government. Some of the potential
contents of a Scottish Arctic strategy are examined in section three, with an emphasis on governance
and cooperation, economic development and on environmental and scientific cooperation.