Polar and Ocean Governance

Internationale Politik und Governance in der Arktis: Eine Einführung. Heidelberg: Springer Spektrum. 2018. ISBN 978-3-662-57419-5. Book page. (with Kathrin Stephen and Golo M. Bartsch)


Erstmalig in einem deutschsprachigen Lehrbuch werden Geschichte, Akteure, Institutionen und Prozesse der internationalen Arktispolitik vor dem Hintergrund verschiedener Politikfelder sowie Theorien der internationalen Beziehungen anschaulich und verständlich analysiert. Fragen wie „Was macht die Arktis als Region in den internationalen Beziehungen aus?“, „Welche Akteure und Institutionen spielen eine Rolle in der Arktispolitik?“, „Welche Bedeutung kommt den Ressourcen und Schifffahrtswegen in einer zugänglich werdenden Arktis zu?“ und „Welche umwelt- und sicherheitspolitischen Bedenken gehen mit einer wärmeren Arktis einher?“ stehen im Zentrum aktueller wissenschaftlicher wie politischer Debatten, welchen sich dieses Buch annimmt. Es bietet damit für Einsteiger ebenso wie für fortgeschrittene Arktiskundige eine Orientierung zwischen den Extremen der historischen Romantisierung der Nordpolarregion als Niemandsland und ihrer aktuellen Charakterisierung als drohendem Konfliktraum.

Das Buch beleuchtet verschiedene Konzepte und Theorieansätze aus den internationalen Beziehungen, dem internationalen Recht und der politischen Geografie und unterzieht sie einem Eignungstest für die Erklärung arktispolitischer Vorgänge in den Bereichen Ressourcen-, Umwelt- und Sicherheitspolitik. Damit liefert es akademische wie praxisrelevante Orientierung für jeden, der politische Prozesse in der Arktis anhand konkreter theoretischer Annahmen zu verstehen sucht, und gibt Anregungen und Impulse für zukünftige Forschungsarbeit.


Governing Arctic Change: Global Perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 2017. ISBN 978-1-137-50883-6. Book page. (edited with Kathrin Keil)

This volume explores the governance of the transforming Arctic from an international perspective. Leading and emerging scholars in Arctic research investigate the international causes and consequences of contemporary Arctic developments, and assess how both state and non-state actors respond to crucial problems for the global community. Long treated as a remote and isolated region, climate change and economic prospects have put the Arctic at the forefront of political agendas from the local to the global level, and this book tackles the variety of involved actors, institutional politics, relevant policy issues, as well as political imaginaries related to a globalizing Arctic. It covers new institutional forms of various stakeholder engagement on multiple levels, governance strategies to combat climate change that affect the Arctic region sooner and more strongly than other regions, the pros and cons of Arctic resource development for the region and beyond, and local and trans-boundary pollution concerns. Given the growing relevance of the Arctic to international environmental, energy and security politics, the volume helps to explain how the region is governed in times of global nexuses, multi-level politics and multi-stakeholderism.

With contributions by Berit Kristoffersen, Oluf Langhelle, Jessica M. Shadian, Olaf Corry, Christoph Humrich, Henrik Selin, Piotr Graczyk, Małgorzata Śmieszek, Timo Koivurova, Adam Stępień, Duncan Depledge, Klaus Dodds, Dorothea Wehrmann, Ken Coates, Carin Holryod, Carolina Cavazos-Guerra, Axel Lauer, Erika Rosenthal and Arild Moe.

Reviews |

“The contributors to this well-integrated and sophisticated collection are able to produce significant insights regarding the increasingly complex pattern of Arctic governance by analyzing the dynamic interplay among issues, interests, institutions, and imaginaries. In the process, they advance our understanding of global governance more generally.” – Professor Oran R. Young, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

“The Arctic is undergoing rapid change. This important and timely new book demonstrates that this is not the change of and in a remote region, but that Arctic change affects, is affected by, and is framed in global contexts and through global imaginaries. This is simply one of the best and nuanced analyses of the contemporary global Arctic available in the social sciences.” – Professor Mathias Albert, Bielefeld University, Germany

“The deeper global approach of this edited book makes it a valuable contribution to Arctic research and a welcomed follow-up to the discussion on globalization and the circumpolar North. I can recommend the book to those scholars, other experts, and post-graduate students, who are already familiar with basic issues in the fields of IR, global politics, international law, governance, as well as the Arctic.” – Professor Lassi Heininen, University of Lapland, Finland

Read a Book Review in Polar Record.


State Observers and Science Cooperation in the Arctic Council: Same Same but Different? In: Shibata, Akiho, Zou, Leilei, Sellheim, Nikolas and Marzia Scopelliti (Eds.). Emerging Legal Orders in the Arctic: The Role of Non-Arctic Actors (pp. 226-243). London: Routledge. Forthcoming. Book page. (with Jennifer Spence)

Abstract: Are all observers in the Arctic Council the same? This chapter traces the historical development of the Arctic Council’s Rules of Procedure from the original version adopted in 1998 until the procedural reform implemented in 2013, and how these Rules have shaped the status and role of observers in Arctic Council science cooperation. The analysis shows how the observer policy has been altered from a flexible, informal and bottom-up approach to a more rule-based, formalised and top-down approach in reaction to the increasing global recognition of a changing Arctic, accompanied by an increase in the number of applications for observer status in the Arctic Council. Despite their formal status as equal participants, political considerations affect the admission and integration process of observers and influence who gets admitted in the first place, but also how well and what role observers perform after admission.


Governance of Resources for Arctic Sustainable Policy and Practice (GRASP) – Stakeholder Mapping. In: Krause, Gesche (Ed.). Building Bridges at the Science-Stakeholder Interface: Towards Knowledge Exchange in Earth System Science (pp. 55-61). Cham: Springer International. 2018. Book page. (with Andreas Herber and Kathrin Stephen)

Abstract: GRASP (Governance of Resources for Arctic Sustainable Policy and Practice) is an inter- and transdisciplinary research project jointly developed in 2014 by the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the Jade University of Applied Sciences. The project seeks to contribute to building a more detailed picture of current and possible future developments of Arctic regions due to increasing human activity. Its central ambition is to analyse potential consequences of these developments from climatic, environmental, legal, social, political and economic perspectives, including processes and feedback loops of complex systems within the Arctic and beyond.


The Politics of Arctic International Cooperation: Introducing a Dataset on Stakeholder Participation in Arctic Council Meetings, 1998 – 2015. Cooperation and Conflict, 52(2): 203-223. 2017. Journal page.


Abstract: Contemporary Arctic transformations and their global causes and consequences have put international cooperation in the Arctic Council, the region’s most important forum for addressing Arctic affairs, at the forefront of research in Northern governance. With interest in Arctic regional affairs in world politics being at a historical high, the actual participation and contribution by interested actors to regional governance arrangements, such as the Arctic Council, has remained very much a blind spot. This article introduces and analyses a novel dataset on stakeholder participation in the Arctic Council (STAPAC) for all member states, Permanent Participants and observers in Ministerial, Senior Arctic Officials’ and subsidiary body meetings between 1998 and 2015. The article finds that participation in the Arctic Council varies significantly across meeting levels and type of actors, and that new admissions to the Council, a source of major contestation in recent debates, do not necessarily result in more actors attending. The article further discusses these findings in light of three prevalent debates in Arctic governance research, and shows the empirical relevance of the STAPAC dataset for the study of Arctic cooperation and conflict, observer involvement in the Arctic Council system and political representation of indigenous Permanent Participants.

[The STAPAC dataset is accessible via Harvard Dataverse.]


Exploring Different Levels of Stakeholder Activity in International Institutions: Late Bloomers, Regular Visitors, and Overachievers in Arctic Council Working Groups. In: Keil, Kathrin and Sebastian Knecht (Eds.). Governing Arctic Change: Global Perspectives (pp. 163-185). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 2017. Book page.

Abstract: This chapter illustrates different ‘worlds of commitment’ with regard to how accredited observers participate in Arctic Council Working Groups, and the weight this carries for the institutional effectiveness of the body. Drawing on a dataset that covers the attendance records of Arctic Council member states, Permanent Participants, and observers for the period from 1998 until 2015, the author shows large variation in how stakeholders make use of their right to participate in Working Group meetings. The chapter further seeks to explain the reasons for this variation by comparing the cases of three state observers, namely Germany (the late bloomer), the Netherlands (the regular visitor), and South Korea (the overachiever).


Procedural Reform at the Arctic Council: The Amended 2015 Observer Manual. Polar Record, 52(5): 601-605. 2016. Journal page.

Abstract: This note studies the addendum to the Arctic Council (AC)’s 2013 Observer Manual adopted at the Senior Arctic Officials’ (SAO) meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, in October 2015. The amendment means another essential step to systematise further and improve the council’s working relations with currently 32 entities that hold observer status in the forum. Compared to the initial manual that sketched out the role observers should play in the council’s subsidiary bodies, the latest revisions delineate a framework for enhancing observer participation and commitment in working group, task force and expert group meetings. After reviewing the content and practical implications of the addendum in the context of larger reform efforts to adapt the council to the age of a global(ising) Arctic, the article further discusses a number of signals the Anchorage decision sends to observers. These comprise the council’s willingness and ability to quick, unified and purposeful action towards institutional adaptation and procedural reform as considered necessary to address organisational deficiencies, strengthened top-down steering of the reform processes by SAOs as related to the work conducted in subsidiary bodies and the overall functioning of the council, and higher expectations on observers to contribute to the AC system and deliver on the new provisions.


Die Mär vom Kalten Krieg: Wie geopolitische Paradigmen in den Internationalen Beziehungen des Arktisraums (re)produziert werden. S+F Security and Peace, 33(3): 121-126. 2015. Journal page.

Abstract: The Arctic region has gained momentum in international relations following a record low of sea ice in 2007 and associated economic prospects. Since then, political, public and academic discourses alike have perceived the Arctic as a potential arena for peace and conflict studies. Despite the low cogency of many Arctic geopolitical analyses predicting regional conflict, three recent developments have reinforced the image of a contested Arctic: increased interest from Asian actors; strained diplomatic relations between Russia and its Western partners over the 2014 Ukraine crisis; and, related to this, the re­militarization of the Russian North. As will be argued here, this ’new Arctic geopolitics’ is about to repeat the same fallacies and analytical traps than previous scenarios.


Arctic Geopolitics Revisited: Spatialising Governance in the circumpolar North. The Polar Journal, 3(1): 178-203. 2013. Journal page. (with Kathrin Keil)

Abstract: With the Arctic ice barrier melting away due to anthropogenic global warming, Arctic states’ governmental policies will inevitably determine future governance prospects in high northern latitudes. Whether multilateral cooperation will prevail over or at least complement national economic and security ambitions in the vulnerable Arctic ecosystem, is an often spotlighted but principally hypothetical question that lacks empirical depth. To shed light on this issue, we argue that foreign policy strategies on both sides of the Arctic Ocean are underpinned by a distinct “spatial logic” that drives state behaviour in a fuzzy definition of Arctic territory and accounts for recent region-building dynamics. Assessing geopolitical perceptions of the USA, Canada and the Russian Federation unveils the dichotomous nature of Arctic strategies swaying back and forth between “internal” and “common” waters. From this perspective, it is more Canada’s domestically motivated demand for absolute sovereignty that hampers pan-Arctic collaboration rather than Russia’s hegemon-like status as an Arctic actor.


Arctic Regionalism in Theory and Practice: From Cooperation to Integration? In: Heininen, Lassi (Ed.). Arctic Yearbook 2013 (pp. 164-183). Akureyri: Northern Research Forum. Book page [Open Access].

Abstract: Conceptualising the Arctic as a political region has been done time and again in polar research, without any clear indication of how to grasp the kind and degree of circumpolar regionalism analytically. Inspired by the New Regionalism paradigm, this chapter provides a systematised framework for the study of political integration in the Arctic and analyses the region’s identity in the respective historical context. Special emphasis is put on the marine area as a source of international governance and the way this impinges on the direction, functionality and virtue of Arctic regionalism. As intergovernmental cooperation in the North has made considerable progress over the past 25 years, the political evolution of circumpolar regionalism will be traced along three critical junctures: 1987 – 1996 – 2007. It was not before the late 1980s that regional cooperation gained momentum in Arctic affairs, because the region’s strategic location as a buffer zone between the former Cold War rivals effectively prohibited any comprehensive regional initiative. This changed considerably throughout the 1990s with the establishment of the Arctic Council as a deliberative forum for scientific and political exchange. Further, it is argued that the Arctic Council today is about to become a relevant actor with independent agency in regional governance if it can successfully turn its delegated tasks and information advantage into practice.