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Arctic Yearbook 2012
supersedes the 1994 “Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-26 with respect to Arctic policy
but not Antarctic policy” (White House, 2009: 1).
The policy objectives/priority areas of the “US National Security Presidential
Directive/NSPD – 66” concerning an “Arctic Region Policy” are first, national security and
homeland security; second, international governance; third, extended continental shelf and
boundary issues; fourth, promoting international scientific cooperation; fifth, maritime
transportation; sixth, economic issues, including energy; and seventh, environmental
protection and conservation of natural resources. The document states (for the first time)
that the United States of America is “an Arctic nation, with varied and compelling interests
in that region” (ibid: 29).
The US Arctic Policy strongly emphasizes national and homeland security and borders,
particularly dealing with maritime areas – “(F)reedom of the seas” - through increased
military presence and the projection of sea power throughout the region (ibid: 3). This is not
surprising, but what is striking (Macnab, 2009) is that the US Policy is the only one excluding
(indigenous) peoples or communities from its main priorities or objectives, although the
involvement of the “Arctic’s indigenous communities in decisions that affect them” is stated
as one of its targets (White House, 2009: 2).
US ratification of UNCLOS is also supported by the document, but this decision remains
stuck in the US Congress. Behind this is the fact that although the US has not as yet ratified
UNCLOS, it would like to establish the outer limits of its continental shelf as well as push
Russia towards ratification of the 1990 US-Russian boundary agreement. In practice, it has
agreed on certain common rules with other littoral states of the Arctic Ocean through the
Ilulissat Declaration.
The US Arctic Policy places a high priority on the environmentally sustainable management
of natural resources and economic development in the region. Furthermore, it appears to
promote international governance, to take place primarily through the AC, and the
strengthening of institutional cooperation among the eight Arctic states. It also declares
continued US cooperation on Arctic issues through the United Nations and its agencies as
well as international treaties, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC). On the issue of environmental protection the text identifies the
challenge of climate change and the related uncertainties, and recognizes that “[B]asic data is