Polar Regions – Comparing Arctic and Antarctic Border Debates

Authored by: Lassi Heininen , Michele Zebich-Knos

The Ashgate Research Companion to Border Studies

Print publication date:  July  2011
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754674061
eBook ISBN: 9781315612782
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043997


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Early twenty-first century discourse surrounding the Arctic argues that a strategic race on energy resources or even an armed conflict over natural resources within the continental shelf is occurring (for example Beary 2008; Brown 2007; Borgerson 2008). Indeed, in the High North’s resource-rich region there is increased competition and use of natural resources, as there has been for fish stocks and marine mammals over the centuries. Furthermore, there are land claims by indigenous peoples, some asymmetric environmental debates and conflicts, and a few marine border disputes between, and new submissions on the continental shelf beyond the 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZ) by the littoral states. However, according to the mainstream discourse on geopolitics and security studies in the post-Cold war Arctic there is neither armed conflict nor a strategic race on energy resources, but high stability based on institutionalized, international cooperation. Yet, the Arctic region is not terra nullius, or no man’s land, but its territories are under national sovereignty with fixed national borders and most maritime boundaries were agreed upon by the relevant littoral states.

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