Using Human Rights to Improve Arctic Governance

Diplomacy on Ice: Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctic (Rebecca Pincus and Saleem H. Ali, eds., Yale 2015)

14 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2015

See all articles by Rebecca M. Bratspies

Rebecca M. Bratspies

City University of New York - School of Law

Date Written: September 3, 2014

Abstract

Each day brings new evidence that human activity is dramatically and irreversibly altering planet Earth, potentially unraveling the life support systems on which we and all other living creatures rely. Nowhere is that evidence more vivid than in the Arctic. Headlines about the Arctic with alarming phrases like “After the Ice” have become common fare. As the ice melts, the once-remote Arctic becomes increasingly accessible to shipping, oil and gas extraction, fishing and tourism.

The new Arctic activities made possible by a warming climate will ultimately be managed, coordinated and regulated. The only questions are when, under what governance structures, and by whose rules. The international community faces a choice — governance initiatives must either get ahead of changing circumstances or will assuredly trail in their wake. This chapter makes the case that Arctic governance should draw on human rights norms in order to grapple more effectively with issues of participation, fairness and transparency in managing Arctic resources. In particular, this chapter suggests that embrace of emerging human rights norms around participation, access to information, and prior informed consent will help decisionmakers exercise their discretion in a fashion that not only supports rather than undermines legitimacy, but also leads to better, more sustainable decisionmaking.

Keywords: climate change, arctic, sustainability, human right, healthy environment, decision-making, legitimacy, participation, governance

JEL Classification: K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Bratspies, Rebecca M., Using Human Rights to Improve Arctic Governance (September 3, 2014). Diplomacy on Ice: Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctic (Rebecca Pincus and Saleem H. Ali, eds., Yale 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2655843

Rebecca M. Bratspies (Contact Author)

City University of New York - School of Law ( email )

2 Court Square
Long Island City, NY 11101
United States

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