Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic
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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.
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Chapter 3: Canada’s Arctic agenda: failing to make a case for economic development as an international strategy in the circumpolar North?

Heather N. Nicol


The circumpolar North is now considered to be a region on the basis of various characteristics; both physical and discursive created by a common high latitude address (AHDR 2004; Keskitalo 2004) and generally, but not exclusively, comprised of territories above 60 degrees North latitude. This commonality is what provides the region with a foundation for building a cooperative governance institution known as the Arctic Council and what gives it a territorial basis for its working agenda. Now approximately two decades old, the Council has created an international political space for regional discussion and cooperation (Keskitalo 2004; Stokke and Honneland 2007; Fenge 2012; Stokke 2013). It has capitalized on the fact that there are, within the circumpolar region, a host of common problems, opportunities and challenges and that addressing these must be part of an evolving Arctic Council agenda. Climate change and its impact upon changing uses of ocean spaces, limited search and rescue capacity and infrastructure in many areas, heightened risk of exposure to global pollutants and contaminants, the need for a polar shipping code in ice-fraught waters, and a host of other issues have been the targets of Arctic Council cooperation and capacity-building. Indeed, as Canada’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development observed, in its preparatory consultations on the potential agenda for Canada’s chairmanship, The range of challenges that are facing the Arctic, and which could be pursued within the Council, is significant. Many of these were mentioned regularly during the Committee’s hearings.

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