Table of Contents

Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic

Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic

Edited by Leif Christian Jensen and Geir Hønneland

The Arctic has again become one of the leading issues on the international foreign policy agenda, in a manner unseen since the Cold War. Drawing on the perspectives of geo-politics and international law, this Handbook offers fresh insights and perspectives on the most pressing issues, grouped under the headings of political ascendancy, climate and environmental issues, resources and energy, and the response and policies of affected countries.

Chapter 13: Oceans governance, the Arctic Council and ecosystem-based management

Alf Håkon Hoel

Subjects: environment, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international politics


Over the last decade, a veritable cottage industry has developed around the study of the governance of marine areas in the Arctic (Young 2009; Young et al. 2012; Stephens and VanderZwaag 2014). The decline in sea ice the Central Arctic Ocean has led many to conclude that a resource bonanza is imminent in the high north (e.g. Borgerson 2008, and numerous press reports). A misconceived comparison with the Antarctic and the Antarctic Treaty System (Stephens 2011), questions regarding the existing regimes, as well as the ideas that institutional voids exist in the Arctic have brought calls for reforms of ‘Arctic governance’ (e.g. WWF 2009; Aspen Institute 2011). At the same time, the concept of ecosystem-based management (EBM) has received increasing attention, leading to numerous documents where principles, approaches and measures for more holistic and integrated approaches to governance of the natural environment are discussed (Curtin and Prellezo 2010; Hoel and Olsen 2012) and called for, globally (WSSD 2002; UN General Assembly 2012), as well as in the Arctic. Both discourses – the one on Arctic Ocean governance more broadly, and that of EBM in particular – have been addressed in the Arctic Council. The wider discourse on Arctic Ocean governance was the topic of a four-year, two-stage effort, the ‘Arctic Ocean Review’.

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