A Way Out for Arctic Diplomacy

Canadian Naval Review, Vol. 5, No. 3, Fall 2009

6 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2010

See all articles by James Kraska

James Kraska

Stockton Center for International Law, U.S. Naval War College; Harvard University - Harvard Law School; University of California Berkeley School of Law; Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Date Written: Fall 2009


The United States and Canada are among the closest allies on Earth; our economies, people and destinies are intertwined. We share a fundamental interest in North American security.

Neither country is secure if the other is vulnerable, which is why the two neighbours have integrated continental defence under the bilateral NORAD command for decades. Membership in NATO provides an additional opportunity for the two democracies to champion stability and freedom, with both countries sharing the burden of combat in Afghanistan. But on the issue of the Northwest Passage, over the past few decades Canada has gradually, if perhaps unintentionally, embarked on a rather unilateralist course by claiming sovereignty over large areas of the Arctic Ocean. Canadian exceptionalism in the Arctic Ocean has weakened the ties between the two countries, and provided an unflattering glimpse into how governments in Ottawa – both on the left and the right – have irresponsibly used the Arctic to score political points at home and reject multilateralism abroad. At times all states are inclined to feel defensive within the international community, and going it alone feeds a certain hyper-sensitive sovereignty impulse that can appeal to our fears, our pride and our independence.

Keywords: Arctic, Arctic security, law of the sea, northwest passage, Canada, United States, NORAD

Suggested Citation

Kraska, James, A Way Out for Arctic Diplomacy (Fall 2009). Canadian Naval Review, Vol. 5, No. 3, Fall 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1649170

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