Arctic Security

New challenges in a diverse region

Authored by: Helga Haftendorn

Routledge Handbook of Naval Strategy and Security

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138840935
eBook ISBN: 9781315732572
Adobe ISBN: 9781317555391

10.4324/9781315732572.ch10

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Abstract

While the Arctic Ocean during the Cold War had been a central theater of bipolar confrontation, today it is an area of peaceful cooperation devoid of acute military threats. In 2008 the five Arctic Ocean states – Canada, Denmark with Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Norway, Russia, and the USA – explicitly reaffirmed their sovereign rights over their Arctic lands and asserted their will to solve conflicts in accordance with the 1982 UN Law of the Sea Convention. This chapter surveys the remaining problems in the area and whether it will be possible to solve them peacefully. In some areas, sea boundaries have not yet been finally delimitated, and thus can provide for tensions. Strong disagreements also exist concerning the use of Arctic marine passages such as the Northern Sea Route along the Siberian coast and the North West Passage through the Canadian Archipelago. As a result of climate change, new challenges have come up in relation to the prospecting of natural resources; besides oil and gas the Arctic holds large deposits of special metals and rare earths. Resource extraction causes deep concerns about a degradation of a largely pristine environment and damages to human and animal habitats. Tensions also exist between the indigenous peoples and prospectors from industrialized countries. A regional governance system centered on the Arctic Council has been put into place but still lacks effectiveness.

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