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Polar Geopolitics?

Polar Geopolitics?

Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes

Edited by Richard C. Powell and Klaus Dodds

The polar regions (the Arctic and Antarctic) have enjoyed widespread public attention in recent years, as issues of conservation, sustainability, resource speculation and geopolitical manoeuvring have all garnered considerable international media interest. This critical collection of new and original papers – the first of its kind – offers a comprehensive exploration of these and other topics, consolidating the emergent field of polar geopolitics.

Chapter 9: The reluctant Arctic citizen: Sweden and the North

Sverker Sörlin

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


Is Sweden an ëArctic nationí? On the map ñ yes; more than 50 per cent of the country lies north of the 60th parallel, a share larger than that of both Canada and Russia, and almost a quarter of it north of the Arctic Circle. In many other respects Sweden has all the Arctic features you could think of, seasonal snow and ice, permanent glaciers, cold winters, remote sparsely populated areas, and a northern ethnic minority, the Sami. Sweden has also in recent years manifested a certain Arctic identity in its foreign affairs, assuming membership in the Arctic Council since its inception in 1996 and signalling Arctic issues in its foreign policy declarations since the first decade of the 21st century. In practice, however, no. Since the middle of the 1920s, more precisely the ratification of the Svalbard Treaty in 1925, Sweden has not had a very clear-cut, let alone a detailed and ambitious, northern or Arctic policy. With very few exceptions, Northern affairs have been an issue for Sweden only to the extent that they have been a matter of Swedish domestic policy, and then mostly as economic and regional issues. In the north, Sweden has considerable natural resources, timber, iron ore and other minerals, hydro-electric power and other sources of energy (peat, wood), which have been the object of considerable political interest.

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