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Arctic Yearbook 2012
25 Years of Arctic Environmental Agency: Changing Issues and Power Relations
Power is defined through social relations in positive and potentially more negative terms. It is
both the capacity of an actor to make a difference, to enact decisions, to mobilize bias built in
institutions (Giddens 1984: 15). And it can also be a way to control another by “influencing
shaping or determining his very wants”, or by exercising an “ideological hegemony” (Lukes 1974,
cit. In Jordan & Riordan 1995: 16).
Nowadays the situation has changed as it becomes obvious that polar bears are not vitally
threatened by hunting but by habitat change. Indeed, the greatest threat is sea ice retreat.
Made of particles of the size of 0.25 to 4
m in diameter, mainly sulfates. For a more recent and
complete description of the Arctic haze phenomenon see International Polar Year, 2005.
POLARCAT White Paper. Retrieved (06.30.2012) from
Even though only Norway had ratified the ILO convention 169 by 1990, the right to self-
determination is recognized since 1919, when the League of Nations, the precursor of the
United Nations, was established. It is recognized in the widely ratified human rights covenants
(Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights). UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007)
affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination in similar terms: “
Indigenous Peoples
have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely
pursue their economic, social and cultural development
” (Art. 3). Article 18 and 19 further define the right
to participate in decision making – in consultation and consent through their won representative
institutions. In front of the United Nations General Assembly, the Declaration received the
votes of 144 countries (except US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, with 11 countries
abstaining). Since then the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia have all endorsed the
DeclarationontheRightsofIndigenousPeoples.aspx, 30-08-12).
Since 2008, the US Endangered Species Act (1973) lists the polar bear as “threatened”.
WCED was created in 1983 by a resolution of the UN General Assembly.
The Saami, also active in working groups such as the one on Underlying Causes to
Deforestation and Forest Degradation and the emerging forest certification schemes (Borchert,
N. 2001).
“The use of the term ‘peoples’ in the declaration should not be construed as having any
implications as regards the rights which may attach to the term under international law”. In the
Ottawa Declaration the term indigenous people in singular appears several times when not
referring to explicitly recognized organizations.
These are the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the Saami Council, the Association of Minorities
of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation.
Whereas military security issues were kept out of the agenda of the Arctic Council, the
ministries of defense of three Arctic governments, i.e., the defense secretaries of Norway, the
United States of America and the Russian Federation, established in 1996 the Arctic Military
Environmental Cooperation Program (AMEC), with funding from the Plan of Action for
Nuclear Safety, pursuing projects of decontamination of nuclear and non-radioactive military
installations (Dieter, Kroken & Sheremeteev, 2001).