Beyond Arctic Conflict: Prospects for Peace and International CooperationJune 7, 2013 By Jacob Glass
Temperatures in the Arctic have increased at twice the global rate over the past 40 years, vaulting the region to international prominence as an emerging theater for maritime transportation and competition over newly uncovered resources.
The international community should start strategizing now to manage the ambitions of circumpolar states and minimize the potential for conflict, write authors Rob Huebert, Heather Exner-Pirot, Adam Lajeunesse, and Jay Gulledge in a report. Published by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Climate Change and International Security: The Arctic as a Bellwether explores the geopolitical implications of climate change in the Arctic and puts forth several recommendations for policymakers to consider. Huebert et al. write that “maintaining security and peace in the Arctic will require adapting policies and institutions to the emerging environment there.” They recommend that Arctic states strengthen existing multilateral agreements by, for example, advocating the accession of the United States into the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Further, they propose that the Arctic Council lifts its ban on discussing security issues in order to become a forum for meaningful discussion.
Predictions of shadowy geopolitical maneuvering and future conflict have overshadowed the potential for Arctic cooperation, writes ETH Zurich’s Jonas Grätz in The Arctic: Thaw With Conflict Potential. “This is particularly apparent when considering ‘soft’ security concerns such as environmental pollution resulting from the extraction of raw materials,” he says. Grätz explores possible avenues for cooperation between the circumpolar states themselves and the broader international community. Much like Huebert et al., he recommends an expanded role for the Arctic Council, through which the eight Arctic states can coordinate their activities, and an emphasis on structuring international law to more effectively facilitate multilateral cooperation.