The Developing Arctic Security Regime: Cooperation or Conflict?
University of Calgary
The world's focus on climate change has brought global attention to the Arctic. The plight of both the wildlife and the increasing challenges to the traditional way of life of the Inuit has riveted attention on a rapidly changing northern world. At the same time that the power of climate change to redraw the physical face of the Arctic is being acknowledged, there is also a growing recognition that the Arctic will soon become a region that increasingly provides more of the world's oil and gas supply.
Less attention has been given to several other equally power transformational forces that are also reshaping the very fabric of the circumpolar world. The circumpolar nations are currently in the process of extending their maritime boundaries in the Arctic Ocean. Through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States can make claims over much of the seabed of the Arctic Ocean. All are now preparing their claims. At the same time, all of the Arctic states have also begun to rebuild their military capabilities in the region. With all of these forces now converging, the question that arises is what will be the international nature of the region. Will the circumpolar world be able to cooperate to manage the many forces at work, or will the region increasingly become an area of competition and conflict?
Rob Huebert is Associate Professor of Political Science and associate director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. He has been a senior research fellow of the Canadian International Council and a fellow with Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. In November 2010, he was appointed as a director to the Canadian Polar Commission. He has published widely on Canadian arctic security, maritime security, and Canadian security and defence issues, and is a frequent commentator on these issues in both the Canadian and international media.