The circumpolar Arctic is undergoing fundamental transformation. The region is in the midst of a period of rapid political, economic, social and ecological change unprecedented in modern times. As a geopolitically important region of the globe that is nevertheless demographically small and institutionally underdeveloped, the Arctic is implicated at the heart of a range of questions surrounding the concept of ‘security’ in the early twenty-first century. Given the Arctic’s particular history, the unique configuration of factors and actors that constitute it as a discrete region, and its growing relevance to the security interests of both circumpolar and non-polar states, the issue of ‘security’ in the Arctic is a contested and evolving concept. This chapter surveys a range of issues intimately linked to security in the Arctic, its practice, its contestation and its transformation. How is security in the Arctic governed? What are the pathologies of in/security within and across the bounds of the Arctic region? Given the widespread transformation of the Arctic as a result of climate change, what current challenges confront the structures of Arctic regional security governance? This chapter first defines the Arctic as a regional security complex (RSC), albeit an unusual one as a result of the ongoing legacy of the Cold War, superpower rivalry and Great Power competition.
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