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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Thawing Ice and French Foreign Policy: A Preliminary Assessment
permanent scientific bases at Ny Ålesund in Svalbard (opened in the 1960s).
Years later, the
French continue to pursue their scientific interests in the High North, notably through
collaboration with Germany as part of their bilateral program at the AWIPEV base at Ny
French students and researchers are also associated with the University of
Svalbard (UNIS) at Longyearbyen (Svalbard). And like many other non-Arctic states, France
has been actively involved in the International Polar Year (IPY, 2007-2008). While scientific
research has acted as a traditional pillar in the relationship between France and the Arctic,
the end of the Cold War steered France into the political architecture of the circumpolar
Table 1 General Overview of Polar Science in France
French Polar Institute
Institut polaire français
(IPEV): Named after ethnologist
Paul-Émile Victor (1907-1995), legendary “
explorateur des extrêmes”
(or explorer of the
extremes), who led a total of 31 outings to both poles as Head of Mission for the
French polar expeditions. The IPEV provides French representation as a Council
Member at the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).
Center for Arctic Studies
Centre d’études arctiques
(CEA) – was founded in 1957
by Jean Malaurie (1922), French cultural anthropologist, geographer and physicist.
Known as one of France’s most respected scholars on Inuit issues, he was appointed
“UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Arctic Polar Issues” in 2007 as recognition for
his anthropological work in Greenland and Northern Canada.
European Arctic Center
Centre Européen Arctique
(CEARC) was created at the
request of Nicolas Sarkozy. It is based at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-
Yvelines (YVSQ). This laboratory has the mandate to support multidisciplinary and
circumpolar research (with an English Masters program called “Arctic Studies”). The
CEARC has been part of the University of the Arctic (UArctic) system since 2011.
French National Center for Scientific Research
Centre National de la Recherche
) has various themed projects on polar studies and promotes
international research collaboration. A recent partnership called “
” was created
in 2011 between the
and Université Laval (Québec, Canada). This bi-national
laboratory is planning to study Arctic ecosystems. France has approximately 20 research
programs in the Arctic
(2007 statistics), supported by the United States, Canada;
Greenland; and Sweden (Gaudin, 2007: 92).
Regional Cooperation
In the early 1990s, France was invited to become an observer of the Barents Euro-Arctic
Council (BEAC) along with Canada, Germany, Japan, Poland and the United States (it is also
connected to the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (BEAR) since 1993
the EU Commission