Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 316

316 Arctic Yearbook 2015 definition, where the eight states with territories north thereof (five of which also hold Arctic Ocean continental shelf claims) are recognised as the so-called Arctic states, the ‘A8’: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark/Greenland, Iceland, Russia, Canada, and the United States. Nevertheless, as largely ocean space, the Arctic has often been thought of as a terra nullius and a free-for-all; an unclaimed and unclaimable liquid space, where no lines or boundaries may be drawn on the rolling waves (Steinberg 2001). It is often based on this view that fears of inadequate governance or regulation will lead to a ‘scramble’ or ‘race’ to claim the Arctic’s potentially rich resources have been allowed disproportionate levels of publicity. However, contrary to such concerns, the Arctic is subject to a number of regulatory mechanisms, firmly placed within a jurisdictional framework of international law (Dodds 2013b). In fact, as the Arctic is defined on a number of nested (and at times overlapping) scales, it has become a region whose governance is highly multilaterally complex, even seemingly messy in all its intricacy (Dittmer, Moisio, Ingram & Dodds 2011; Young 2004). As state, sub-state, inter-state, multi-state, trans-state, and supra-state actors interact in the various topically defined ‘Arctics’, institutional interplay and a wide array of interests mean that the region is highly dynamic – not just physically (Jakobsson, Ingólfsson, Long & Spielhagen 2014), but also politically (Stokke 2011, 2013; Underdal 2013; Young 2009). However, although Arctic governance is often described as idiosyncratic in its intricate multilateralism and inclusion of e.g. indigenous peoples’ organisations in AC deliberations, actual authority has repeatedly been affirmed to lie with the eight Arctic states. Indeed, as regional cooperation increases and the range of active stakeholders have expanded far beyond northern latitudes (see e.g. Bennett 2014), the maintenance of state sovereignty remains a key priority for the Arctic states (Heininen 2012; Knecht & Keil 2013; Steinberg & Dodds 2013). The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Whereas territorial sovereignty on land above the Arctic Circle is distributed and bordered among the A8, the application of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982) provides the legal framework for delimitation and distribution of rights and responsibilities among the five coastal states in the Arctic Ocean. This establishes that, contrary to common notions of a ‘global commons’, the Arctic Ocean is not to be considered high seas at all (bar a few ‘loopholes’), but neatly segmented into territorial seas, exclusive economic zones (EEZ), extended continental shelves, and so on – all with their own rules and frameworks for orderly usage. The process of Arctic mapping and boundary-drawing, or ‘cartopolitics’, is therefore instrumental in producing a specific space of state governance (St randsbjerg 2010, 2012). Guided by scientists’ descriptions of the sea-floor’s geological features, this ‘strategic science’ with long historical roots (Doel et al. 2014) constructs a narrative of the Arctic as unquestionably, obviously like any other ocean; already inherently a part of the five states’ spatial extent (see Steinberg, Tasch & Gerhardt 2015). Despite the seeming neutrality of science and the seeming rigour of international law, the process of UNCLOS-based delimitation is therefore undeniably political, with interpretations of both law and geological data being malleable depending on interest (Brekke 2014). Submissions for extended continental shelves, for example, will only ever be reviewed after any bilateral territorial questions have Big Fish in a Small (Arctic) Pond