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 16: Institutional complexity in Arctic governance: curse or blessing?

Olav Schram Stokke

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


A whole suite of institutions at province, national and international levels may influence developments in the Arctic, and efforts to use them for such purposes have multiplied in recent years. Sub-national governments cooperate through several circumpolar or narrower bodies, including the Northern Forum and the Barents Regional Council. National Arctic policy documents are routinely developed and refined not only by regional states but also by non-Arctic players like the UK, Germany and the EU. One EU body, the European Commission, is even a founding member of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region; another, the European Parliament, has controversially called for a comprehensive international environmental treaty applicable to the Arctic Ocean. The USA’s initiative for creating a regional high-seas fisheries management organization for the Arctic Ocean obtained some success with the 2014 agreement among the Arctic coastal states on ‘the need for interim precautionary measures to prevent any future commercial fisheries without the prior establishment of appropriate regulatory mechanisms’.

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