Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 381

381 Arctic Yearbook 2014   Arctic governance or where only a limited part of the population lives in the High North, the educational motive towards their own publics may also be strong. The world’s largest powers outside the Arctic, and the larger states of Europe, have also shown a growing interest in Arctic developments. As many as twelve have now been accepted as Observers within the AC system,5 allowing them to participate on carefully circumscribed conditions that were elaborated by the member states in 2011.6 Some of these interested ‘outsiders’ have begun to make their own Arctic policy statements, or at least to publicly debate the issues and their own particular interests.7 However – and understandably – they have been slower than the AC member states to formalize their overall national strategies.8 Following the eight full members, the first government to issue such a document was in fact that of the Faroe Islands, an autonomous nation within the kingdom of Denmark, in April 2013.9 When the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), acting on behalf of the whole Government, published the document ‘Adapting to Change – UK policy towards the Arctic’ on 17 October 2013,10 the latter thus constituted the first comprehensive statement from a sovereign state outside the circumpolar region proper. Hard on its heels, however, in November 2013 came a 20-page policy statement by the German Foreign Ministry on behalf of the German Federal Government;11 and France is now working on a similar document. The purpose of this study is to present and evaluate the UK’s Arctic policy document, starting with the longer-term background of UK involvement, and the pre-history of the present paper (the second section). The third section summarizes and comments on the various parts of the text. In the fourth section, the UK statement is viewed in a comparative light alongside the ten other national strategies now available, and some larger analytical and normative issues are raised. The fifth section offers brief conclusions. The UK and the Arctic: From Historic Times to 2013 Even leaving aside the semi-mythical tales of monks visiting Thule in the dark ages, the British connection with High Northern latitudes goes back far into history and has at least three main dimensions. Probably foremost in the popular mind is the British role in Arctic exploration, which at times had had commercial or even strategic motivations but has been most strongly linked with the theme of discovery and scientific research. British expeditions began in the 16th century, probing both Westwards (Frobisher) and Eastwards into the White Sea (Willoughby and Chancellor). The 19th century saw UK explorers thronging the approaches to the NorthWest Passage (NWP), including the famous tragedy of Sir John Franklin’s expedition and the useful discoveries made by some of those searching for him. In the twentieth century Wally Herbert became the first solo traveller to reach the North Pole and perhaps (depending on one’s position on the Peary and Cook claims) the first person to reach it at all. More recent British adventurers like Ranulph Fiennes have gained their fair share of international attention. Organized British science has also been strongly engaged, with the principal clusters of expertise at the Scott Polar Research Institute (founded 1920)12 and the British Antarctic Survey (thus named since 1962, formerly the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey),13 which actually cover bot