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CIAO Focus, June 2013: Resource Development and Foreign Policy in the Arctic

During the Cold War, the Arctic area was an important theatre in the US -Soviet confrontation, mainly due to the area’s nuclear deterrent relevance for both super powers. With the end of the Cold War, the Arctic lost most of its geopolitical relevance and dropped off the radar. During the last decade or so, the Arctic has made a flashy comeback and has become highly topical again. In fact, the area has re-emerged as a component of contemporary high politics, highlighted by the publication of numerous national and supranational strategic documents on the Arctic. 

This “Arctic boom” is mostly because of the economic opportunities brought about by climate change, which is making the natural resources in the Arctic increasingly accessible. There has even been speculation that this increasing economic relevance might lead to some kind of new “wild west” scenario, where commercial actors are rushing to seize opportunities and states are trying to bolster their sovereignty claims. The media, in particular, have been eager to report on the Arctic developments in a fairly colourful way, dubiously emphasizing the lucrative yet conflictual and even anarchic character of the area.

--The Finnish Institute of International Affairs


From the CIAO Database:

Arctic economic potential: The need for a comprehensive and risk-aware understanding of Arctic dynamics

The New Foreign Policy Frontier: U.S. Interests and Actors in the Arctic

China’s Arctic Aspirations

Military capabilities in the Arctic

The Arctic policies of Canada and the United States: domestic motives and international context


Outside Sources: *

The Arctic (Brookings Institution)

Arctic Council

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Arctic (Council on Foreign Relations)

EU Arctic Policy (EEAS)

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine.