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Arctic Yearbook 2012
State of the Arctic Strategies and Policies – A Summary
Iceland’s Report on the High North and Resolution on Arctic Policy
The Report “Ísland á norðurslóðum” (“Iceland in the High North”) on Iceland’s position
and status in the Arctic was published by the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs in
September 2009 (Utanrikisraduneytid, 2009).
The Report was first followed by the report of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the
Icelandic Parliament, in May 2010, where “Iceland’s interests in the High North” is one of
the four areas emphasized (Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2011); and second, by “A
Parliamentary Resolution on Iceland’s Arctic Policy”, approved by the Icelandic Parliament,
Althingi, in March 2011 with twelve principles (Althingi, 2011). It has already been indicated
by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that there is a goal to develop a further policy for Iceland
on issues pertaining to the High North; in the meantime the Report together with the
Parliamentary Resolution could be interpreted to represent the Icelandic strategy on the
Arctic region.
According to the Report, Iceland is the only country located entirely within the Arctic
region, and its prosperity relies heavily on the sustainable utilization of the regions’ natural
resources. Indeed, Iceland has recently (re)defined its geopolitical position in the High North
and become very active in Northern issues supporting both Arctic cooperation in many
fields and global cooperation on Arctic issues (Grimsson, 2011). There has, for example,
been an emphasis on marine transport through new trans-arctic sea routes (Government of
Iceland, 2007) and research on ice (Northern Research Forum, 2011).
Behind Iceland’s somewhat ambivalent position is its geographic location between North
America and Europe, though it clearly shares a European and especially Northern European
heritage. Iceland played a strategically important role in the development of the UN’s
Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the 1970s and 1980s as one of the leading
countries in the negotiations. This was largely because the Icelandic economy at the time was
entirely dependent on fisheries. Early 21
century Iceland is a small island nation and Nordic
country with a unique geopolitical location in the North Atlantic.
The six key headings and highlights of Iceland’s Report on the High North are: first,
international cooperation; second, security through international cooperation; third, resource