High Ideals in the High North, Interdependence in a Territory Sui Generis
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The Arctic used to mainly be of relevance to science. Now, increasingly, it is a matter of economic, political and legal interest. The Arctic is experiencing a profound transformation, driven largely by the interacting forces of climate change and globalization. The impact of climate change is difficult to predict with any precision, but it is certain that the demand for Arctic resources will continue to climb. Countries are preparing to defend their commercial and territorial interests in a region whose strategic significance will boom in the next decade. Natural and man-made change in the region will increasingly compel attention. Most significantly, climate change is challenging the notions of permanency and stability on which the ideal of the sovereign, territorial state has historically rested, gradually, literally uncovering an Arctic which stands at a crossroads of development and risk and of cooperation or discord. The question posed in this thesis was: To what degree are conflicting Arctic territorial sovereignty claims emerging as a potential security threat? The answer was attained via the following sub-questions: • Can territorial expansion be considered the prime source of disharmony in the Arctic? • What role does sovereignty play in the Arctic? • Does the combination of these two factors (territory and sovereignty) combine in such a way as to form a relevant security threat? An analysis method was designed and employed in order to discern whether disputes arising from territory and sovereignty issues were likely to develop into either security threats.Trends in the way of increased cooperation or conflict concerning border disputes among Arctic states hold substantial consequences for the balance of power in the region, affecting patterns of innovation in governance in the Arctic today and shedding light on the Arctic of tomorrow. The results attained through the analysis of case studies provide a solid basis from which to hypothesize on how governance of the Arctic could evolve. The Arctic is a source of inspiration for legal innovation, as testified by the legal status of the Arctic as a terra sui generis. The option given in this thesis is an example of a creative solution which states may employ in order to facilitate cooperation in the High North. At the top of the world, the Arctic Ocean is cold, remote, and covered in darkness for half the year. It is testing enough to reach the ice-covered ocean, even harder to get under it and down to the seabed. The region's geopolitical challenges are as relevant as its geological mysteries: they are the implications of the development of the planet’s last unspoilt wilderness.