Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 267

267 Arctic Yearbook 2015 as the main motivation for the Arctic Council’s establishment. Canada’s Northern Strategy stresses the Arctic Council’s key role in developing a “common agenda” among Arctic states (Canada 2009: 35). It underscores the need for Canada to work closely with its Arctic neighbours to achieve the Arctic states’ “common goals” and emphasizes interests that Canada shares with its Arctic neighbours, such as climate change adaptation, oil and gas development, oceans management and scientific cooperation (Canada 2009: 33 and 35). The United States’ National Strategy for the Arctic Region, for its part, insists on “common interests” that make Arctic states ideal partners of cooperation (U.S. 2013: 9). It highlights the successful cooperation within the Arctic Council, considered a facilitator of cooperation on “myriad issues of mutual interest,” and notes that cooperation has led to “much progress on issues of common concern,” such as search and rescue as well as pollution prevention and response (U.S. 2013: 2 and 9). Although the Strategy concedes that Arctic states share “common objectives in the Arctic region” with non-Arctic states and other non-Arctic stakeholders, it asserts that these objectives must be advanced “in a manner that protects Arctic states’ national interests and resources” (U.S. 2013: 10). Yet, John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, when taking over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in Iqaluit in 2015, explicitly called on the “entire world” to address climate change, the region’s biggest challenge (Kerry 2015). It remains to be seen whether this marks a shift in attitude and whether this “shared responsibility” will indeed yield greater weight for non-Arctic states in Arctic cooperation, as these states have long sought. Statements from the realm of non-Arctic states have indeed long conveyed the idea that the Arctic is a global common, or at least of global interest. One of the clearest and most striking expressions of global commonality has been to label the “Arctic” as “common heritage of mankind” (Shackelford 2009). The former German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle (2012: 3), used this qualification to describe the Arctic Ocean, whereas Georg Witschel (2010: 34), legal adviser of the German Foreign Office, mentioned it with reference to the high seas of the Arctic Ocean, clarifying however that “[t]his [concept was] particularly relevant as far as sea-bed resources [were] concerned.” While Chinese academics are more vocal than Chinese officials (Alexeeva & Lasserre 2013), some striking statements are attributable to the official realm. Qu Tanzhou, director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, is quoted as having mentioned the concept of “common heritage of mankind” in a blurred reference to the Arctic high seas and “resources in the seabed” (Wang 2010; Chinese (slightly different) version: 王茜 2010). Hu Zhengyue, China’s assistant Foreign Minister, called on Arctic states to bear in mind the relationship between the extended continental shelf and the international seabed areas, “which are a common heritage of humankind” (Hu 2009). In their English translation, his words were sometimes received as establishing a link between the coastal States’ continental shelves and the international Area (Chao 2013: 482; Wright 2011: 29). The Chinese Rear Admiral, Yin Zhuo is quoted as saying in 2010 that “[a]ccording to the UN law of the Sea, the North Pole and areas surrounding it do not belong to any country but are common wealth of the whole human population” (Kopra 2013: 110). Yin Zhuo reportedly said, with respect to the Arctic Ocean, that “except for areas of territorial sea, all other parts [were] international waters” and thus a “common legacy of humankind,” which he considered a longstanding legal basis (Anonymous 2013a). The Common Arctic