Understanding The Arctic Council: A 'Sub-Regional' Perspective

Alyson J.K. Bailes


The peculiarities of the institutional framework in the Arctic place the Arctic Council, with its eight circumpolar member states, in a prominent and exposed position. It may most fairly be evaluated by comparing it with 'sub-regional' organizations that cover contiguous neighbour sets elsewhere, notably in Northern Europe. These turn out to share the AC's 'weaknesses', such as lack of military and legislative competence; but they also show similar strengths and, arguably, succeed by not constraining their members too closely. In institutional terms the AC is catching up on solutions already used by the North European groups, but handles indigenous peoples and the EU differently and must find its own answers for extra-regional (eg Chinese) interest.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.