Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 346

346 Arctic Yearbook 2015 notification to the troops involved – the Russian Federation bypassed its politically-binding obligations as a participating state of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and was thus not obliged to internationally announce the exercise in advance or to invite foreign military observers. This raised some controversial debate about whether Russia’s exercise was a direct response to Norway’s military activities or not (Bentzrød 2015a). While such a connection is difficult to prove and Russia was also arguably compliant with its international obligations, its behaviour did not – and probably was not supposed to – send an unequivocal signal of détente. It rather lines up in a series of events which seem to mark a decreasing level of trust in the region. By the end of the Cold War the Arctic had only a limited potential for military conflict (Welch 2013: 2 f.). In fact, for years the Arctic was characterized by researchers and diplomats alike as an environment in which any form of military escalation was very unlikely (Welch 2013; Lind 2014; Bergh 2014; Wezeman 2014). One could argue that the Arctic was developing towards a convincing example of a ‘Security Community.’ On the other hand, unlike the theoretical concept that Emanuel Adler and Michael Barnett had proposed, this ‘Arctic security community’ had started to form around ‘soft’ security issues in the ‘economic and environmental’ as well as in the ‘human’ dimension of security and beyond the traditional understanding of states as the only capable security providers. At the same time, ‘hard’ security issues were excluded from much of the Arctic security discourse and this incomprehensive security approach has made the region vulnerable to spillover-effects of geo-political tensions emanating from the crisis around Ukraine. As these now seem to slowly threaten even the good track record of cooperation on ‘soft’ security issues in the Arctic, this article advocates for a broadening of the theoretical concept of ‘Security Communities’, to include security issues along all three dimensions of the OSCE’s comprehensive security approach as well as to consider additional actors and providers of security, other than the state. For this purpose, the article will first briefly outline the traditional theoretical concept of security communities. Afterwards, it assesses the extent to which the Arctic today can be considered a traditional security community, and to what degree spillover effects from the crisis in and around Ukraine have influenced this development, if at all. This analysis shall also highlight some of the shortcomings of the traditional concept of security communities in which security issues are not sufficiently addressed across all three security dimensions and almost exclusively dominated by states. The article will conclude by discussing the advantages of enhancing the traditional concept of security communities. It will furthermore discuss ways through which the Arctic states can facilitate the formation of a comprehensive Arctic security community in the future and how the region might even be able to transform into a proving ground for restoring trust and mutual confidence beyond its borders. Practical examples used in this article will be primarily chosen from the bilateral relations between Norway and Russia. As this article does not claim to deliver a full-fledged in-depth analysis, the presented line of argumentation should be treated as an initiatory discussion for broader ones on security in the High North in the future. Schaller