The Arctic was once a zone of great power competition but as the Cold War receded, so too did its strategic significance. In recent years, tensions have once again been rising. From the infamous planting of the Russian flag on the floor of the Arctic Ocean in 2007 to Secretary Clinton’s appearance at the May 2011 Arctic Council ministerial, states have turned their attention to the North. These developments have created a complex and, to some, worrying political picture. Many fear the Arctic will see an intensifying battle for sovereign control and commercial advantage.
This paper by Andrew Hart, Bruce Jones, and David Steven argues:
· The bleakest forecasts have overlooked positive developments in the region. Despite the Arctic’s dangerous mix of great power competition, unresolved territorial disputes, and increasingly accessible oil and gas reserves, there has to date been little actual discord.
· Unlike in the South China Seas, which faces a similar mix of uncharted energy resources and contested boundaries, Arctic states have pledged to solve disputes in an orderly process, managed the peaceful resolution of a major territorial conflict, and concluded a binding agreement to cooperate on search and rescue.
· The Arctic therefore emerges as a rich case study of current and potential areas of international cooperation and tension, with implications for energy security, global trade, global power politics, sustainable development, and climate change.