Edited by James Sperling
Chapter 29: Arctic Council
This chapter provides an overview of the Arctic Council and describes how it contributes to security governance in the Arctic. The Arctic Council is an international forum made up of the eight Arctic littoral states: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. The states created the council in 1996 to facilitate co-operation on Arctic issues in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. It also consists of six Indigenous peoples’ organizations (called permanent participants), six working groups, and over 30 observers. The Arctic Council is significant for at least three reasons. First, it is the only Arctic international institution in which every Arctic state is a member. Second, it addresses environmental issues of global consequence. Third, Indigenous peoples’ organizations have a level of power in the council unparalleled in other international institutions.This chapter proceeds in three sections. In the first, I introduce the institution, including its mandate, membership, structure and weaknesses. The second section addresses the role of the Arctic Council in Arctic security governance, particularly its role in regional environmental and human security. The third section considers how the council contributes to security governance, including its role in the securitization of issues, the purposes of the institution, and the means it has to fulfill its mandate. I argue that the council is a weak organization because to this point in its history, it has mostly created reports and relatively unambitious international agreements.
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