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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

Between Geostrategic Importance and Regional Co-Operation – A Critical View on ‘Arctic Exceptionalism’

International Relations
Comparative Perspective
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Benjamin Schaller
UiT – Norges Arktiske Universitet
Panel Discussant
Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv
UiT – Norges Arktiske Universitet

25/08/2018 16:00 - 17:40
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 2 Room: 27
Throughout history, its geostrategic location has made the Arctic always an important component of great power politics. During the Second World War, it was of key interest to German aspirations of controlling access to the North Atlantic Ocean and for securing a constant supply of iron ore from Northern Sweden. Throughout the Cold War, the Arctic –constituting the shortest distance between the Soviet Union and the United States – was a major component of the nuclear deterrence postures of NATO and the Warsaw Pact and still is today. However, despite its location in the theatre of power politics, a considerably close co-operation between governments, research institutions, civil society actors and indigenous populations could be established. This co-operation, probably, becomes most visible in the framework of the Arctic Council, working on common issues of economic, environmental and human security in the Arctic. The good and close co-operation, seems to continue, even under the currently more tensed relations between Russia and the West, resulting in, what one might call, a feeling of ‘Arctic Exceptionalism’. This Arctic Exceptionalism describes the widespread perception of many Arctic scholars and practitioners that it is possible to largely isolate the region from negative trends and developments elsewhere in the world, for example, more strained relations of Western states and Russia in the Baltic or Black Sea area. There are certainly positive lessons to be learned for global security challenges from the relationships in the Arctic that contribute to a more cooperative political environment. However, taking such solely optimistic view would neglect the many significant though less visible implications that global trends already have had on regional security concerns and vice versa. Thus, taking a balanced approach that acknowledges and analyses the positive and negative trends in Arctic security in comparison to other regional seas, provides an important contribution to understanding global security dynamics.

Against this backdrop and taking a multidimensional approach to security (e.g. state, economic, environmental or human security), this panel seeks to take a critical look at the notion of ‘Arctic Exceptionalism’ and discuss:
- how global trends effect regional security concerns in the Arctic security environment (e.g. climate change, migration, renewed tensions between Russia and the West)
- how regional co-operation in the Arctic might be able to help restoring trust on the global level
- what distinguishes or interlinks the Arctic region from other regional seas, in particular the Baltic, but also the Black Sea area.

Paper List

Title Details
City Sustainability in the Global Context: the Exceptional Urban Arctic? View Paper Details
Global and Regional Security Challenges in the Arctic View Paper Details
The Arctic (Council) In, Through and Despite Practice View Paper Details
The UN and the Arctic Council: Interrogating the Dynamics of Global and Regional Governance in the Arctic Ocean View Paper Details
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