The Arctic Five versus the Arctic Council

Arctic Yearbook, Vol. 2016, pp. 389-95 (2016)

7 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2016

Date Written: October 2016


Since asserting itself in 2008 through the Ilulissat Declaration, the Arctic Five has been painted as being in competition with the Arctic Council, and as undermining the cooperative spirit that pervades Arctic international relations due to its limited membership. This, however, is an overly simplistic assessment of the relationship between these two regional associations and how the Arctic Five fits into the tapestry of international governance regimes at the top of the world. Although the overlapping purposes and differing memberships of the Arctic Five and Arctic Council certainly lend themselves to competition in certain circumstances, their unique characteristics also allow them to complement one another in positively contributing to Arctic international governance and policy formulation. This briefing examines the relationship between the Arctic Five and the Arctic Council, presenting the actual and potential antagonisms and synergies between these two bodies. It reveals that the nature of their interactions is certainly not one dimensional. The comparative advantages and deficiencies of the Arctic Five and Arctic Council can and do align to constructively influence Arctic affairs.

Keywords: Arctic, Arctic Five, Arctic Council, International Relations, International Governance, International Law

Suggested Citation

Kuersten, Andreas, The Arctic Five versus the Arctic Council (October 2016). Arctic Yearbook, Vol. 2016, pp. 389-95 (2016). Available at SSRN:

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