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Title: Russia in the Arctic Chair: Adapting the Arctic Governance System to Conditions Prevailing in the 2020s
Abstract At the Arctic Council’s Ministerial Meeting in Reykjavik on 20 May 2021, Russia assumed the chairmanship of the council for the second time since its establishment in 1996. Though some Russian analysts and practitioners were skeptical about the usefulness of such a mechanism during the 1980s and 1990s, Russia has become an active contributor to the progress of the Arctic Council (AC). Russia’s first term as chair during 2004–2006 led to the creation of the Arctic Contaminants Action Program as an Arctic Council Working Group. Since then, Russia has served as co-lead of the Task Forces developing the terms of the 2011 agreement on search and rescue, the 2013 agreement on marine oil spill preparedness and response, and the 2017 agreement on enhancing international scientific cooperation. Russia also has participated actively in the creation of related bodies including the Arctic Coast Guard Forum and the Arctic Economic Council whose chairmanships rotate together with the chairmanship of the AC. Now, far-reaching changes in the broader setting are posing growing challenges to the effectiveness of these institutional arrangements. The impacts of climate change in the high latitudes have increased dramatically; the pace of the extraction and shipment of Arctic natural resources more » has accelerated sharply; great-power politics have returned to the Arctic foregrounding concerns regarding military security. Together, these developments make it clear that a policy of business as usual will not suffice to ensure that the AC remains an important high-level forum for addressing Arctic issues in a global context. The programme Russia has developed for its 2021–2023 chairmanship of the council is ambitious; it proposes a sizeable suite of constructive activities. In this article, however, we go a step further to explore opportunities to adapt the Arctic governance system to the conditions prevailing in the 2020s. We focus on options relating to (i) the AC’s constitutive arrangements, (ii) links between the council and related governance mechanisms, (iii) the role of science diplomacy, and (iv) the treatment of issues involving military security. We conclude with a discussion of the prospect of organising a heads of state/government meeting during the Russian chairmanship as a means of setting the Arctic governance system on a constructive path for the 2020s. « less
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Polar Record
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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