'Enduring Value': Preserving the Arctic Council in the Second Cold War

15 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2022

See all articles by Stefan Kirchner

Stefan Kirchner

University of Lapland, Arctic Centre

Date Written: November 5, 2022


The escalation of Russia’s war against Ukraine since 24 February 2022 has impacted the international cooperation in the Arctic to a point at which the future of the Arctic Council (AC), the premier forum for international cooperation in the Arctic, is in doubt, at least as long as Russia holds the rotating chairmanship, which it is due to pass over to Norway in spring of 2023. The new U.S. Arctic Strategy that was published in October 2022 aims to preserve the Arctic Council as a forum, in line with earlier statements by the seven Western Arctic states (A7). This text aims to put these efforts into the wider context of Arctic governance, discussions on the role of hard security questions in the context of Arctic governance, and the reality of the new Cold War that has also reached the Arctic. Looking at these issues from the perspective of public international law, it is shown that the current situation, in particular the war of aggression and crimes of genocide committed by Russia against the civilian population of Ukraine, means that the conditions for a continued cooperation with the Russian Federation are currently not present. The task at hand, for those in the A7 that are tasked with Arctic diplomacy in fora such as the AC, is to remain steadfast in the defence of international law. As Arctic governance in Russia is entering a dark age, it is up to the West to preserve the tools necessary for a hypothetical return to a more complete approach to Arctic governance. This includes in particular the achievements that have been made in the field of International Arctic Law since the end of the first Cold War. This text aims to contribute to these long-term efforts, while emphasizing the importance of the protection of international legal standards in the present.

Keywords: Arctic, Arctic Council, United States of America, Russia, war, strategy

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Kirchner, Stefan, 'Enduring Value': Preserving the Arctic Council in the Second Cold War (November 5, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4269326 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4269326

Stefan Kirchner (Contact Author)

University of Lapland, Arctic Centre ( email )

P.O. Box 122
Rovaniemi, Lapland 96101
+358404844001 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ulapland.fi

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