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Article contents

Do the cures match the problem? Reforming the Arctic Council

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2019

Malgorzata Smieszek*
Affiliation:
Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, P.O. Box 122, 96101 Rovaniemi, Finland
*Corresponding
Author for correspondence: Malgorzata Smieszek, Email: malgorzata.smieszek@ulapland.fi

Abstract

Despite its numerous valuable contributions to Arctic governance, throughout its history the Arctic Council (AC) has been subject to criticism and reform proposals from academic, non-governmental and practitioner communities alike. In order to inform this ongoing debate, the paper evaluates the proposals that have been presented for the AC thus far. The proposals are grouped into three clusters: legal reforms, organisational reforms and functional reforms. Each of them is examined in terms of its applicability and usefulness to the case of the AC, and specifically its suitability given the prevailing conditions in the Arctic. What the conducted analysis reveals is that the ideas regarding means to enhance the AC’s effectiveness can be largely attributed to the assumptions their proponents make—oftentimes implicitly—about the nature of state actors and international relations more broadly, without attending to the particular conditions of the case study at hand. This is an important inference, given the unrelenting change happening in both Arctic and global socio-environmental settings that calls into question the usefulness of past modes of thinking and forms of international cooperation. Far from offering solutions, their continuous application in particular circumstances might even impede progress in addressing present and future challenges.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2019 

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