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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Inuit Political Engagement in the Arctic
conceptualized was provided significant media attention promoting public awareness. This new map
is now used by the ITK in any reference to Canada’s Arctic, continuing to challenge conventional
domestic political jurisdictions.
Re-conceptualizing Arctic Territory at the International Level
At the international level the ICC is also challenging the nation-state-centered approach to
international relations and presenting the Arctic as a distinct region in an effort to strengthen Inuit
sovereignty claims and to enhance the Inuit voice in Arctic affairs. This occurred most recently with
the drafting of two ICC declarations that, it could be argued, serve as foreign policy statements. At
one time it was meaningless to speak of a non-nation-state having a foreign policy, but the scenario
evolving in the Arctic is giving significant meaning to this development. While each Arctic nation-
state has issued its own Arctic foreign policy, as mentioned above, both the ICC and Saami Council,
have released international declarations. To date, the sub-field of foreign policy analysis has not
included indigenous policies and declarations as part of the foreign policy dialogue. And yet, this is
precisely what is occurring in the Arctic. The potential influence of non-nation-state bodies, peoples
and organizations that prioritize the rights of a people in the foreign policy dialogue could have a
profound impact on the way we understand the world.
In April 2009 the ICC launched the
A Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Sovereignty in the Arctic
. The
declaration was written to address increased outside interest in the Arctic as a result of climate
change and the race for Arctic resources. Griffith (2011) argues that
A Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on
Sovereignty in the Arctic
is a manifesto as well as “an outline of a possible legal case against the Arctic
states” (Griffith, 2011: 131). He notes, “the Inuit believe that they have a legal right to participate in
Arctic governance that coexists with and cannot be trumped by state sovereignty” (Griffith, 2011:
136). Perhaps the most impressive challenge to nation-state sovereignty occurs in Article 2.1 of the
“Sovereignty” is a term that has often been used to refer to the absolute and
independent authority of a community or nation both internally and externally.
Sovereignty is a contested concept, however, and does not have a fixed meaning. Old
ideas of sovereignty are breaking down as different governance models, such as the
European Union, evolve. Sovereignties overlap and are frequently divided within
federations in creative ways to recognize the right of peoples. For Inuit living within the
states of Russia, Canada, the USA and Denmark/Greenland, issues of sovereignty and
sovereign rights must be examined and assessed in the context of our long history of
struggle to gain recognition and respect as an Arctic indigenous people having the right