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Limits and possibilities of the Arctic Council in a rapidly changing scene of Arctic governance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2009

Timo Koivurova*
Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland (


In a very short time, discussions on Arctic governance have moved from being a topic of scholarly attention and NGO advocacy onto the agendas of states and of the European Union (EU). Increasingly, the various alternatives propounded by a diverse set of actors over what Arctic governance should look like appear as pre-negotiation tactics, a type of testing period before a regime change. The article examines whether the still predominant inter governmental forum, the Arctic Council, is facing a threat of being supplanted by other forms of governance. It will study how resistant the Arctic Council, and its predecessor the 1991 Arctic environmental protection strategy, are to change in order to understand whether the council could renew itself to meet future challenges. It will also examine the various proposals for Arctic governance set out by states, the EU and the region's indigenous peoples. All this will permit conclusions to be drawn on where the Arctic Council stands amid all these proposals and whether, and in what way, it should change to support more sustainable governance in the Arctic.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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