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Over Easy: 5 Basic Arctic Geopolitics Resources

A map of the arctic circle

Over Easy gets chilly in the Arctic.

Arctic policy rhetoric is changing as the climate changes. Arctic geopolitics involves people and cultures, environment and ecology, zones and laws, agreements and alliances, shipping and industry, climate science, and even a donut hole. What sites can we consult to gain a basic understanding of this broad topic and follow the developments?

Aleksander Schilbach* (bio below) is currently defending a graduate thesis titled The Arctic Asia-Pacific Dimension for the University of Washington, Jackson School of International Studies: Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies Program. He recommends the following basic resources, for information and news about the Arctic region and Arctic (High North) geopolitics:

1. The Arctic Council Website.

The Arctic Council “is a high-level intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States.” This website is a good starting point for getting to know the Arctic indigenous peoples and their languages and cultures, as well as the climates and environment, oceans and biodiversity. Learn about monitoring and conservation programs and anything else of general interest.

There are eight countries in the Arctic Council:

Denmark (representing also the dependencies of Greenland and Faeroes)
United States

Five of these member countries have Arctic coastlines: Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland).

Two major polar shipping routes are the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route.

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Chair of the Arctic Council’s call for decisive action to combat climate change by reducing global emissions is here.

2. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. (document also here in full-text)

The Law of the Sea Convention (1982) defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources. Wiki has the list of countries that have or have not signed this treaty.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (mentioned yesterday in Fatster’s News Roundup) is an intergovernmental organization created by the mandate of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.

3. Geopolitics in the High North.

Put yourself in the shoes of one of the Arctic countries and and learn more by reading the Arctic strategy documents. Learn who the actors are, as well as the patterns of conflict and cooperation. Pull up publications, look up events, or search for a research topic.

4. The Barents Observer.

This is an open internet news service, which offers daily updated news from and about the Barents Region (Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland) and the Arctic. The news categories at the Barents Observer are: Energy, Security, Nature, Business, Arctic, Culture, Borders, Politics and Society.

5. Territorial Claims in the Arctic (wikipedia) provides an overview. Also, for your Google searches, type “China Russia Arctic,” or “Japan Russia Arctic” for more news. You can do the same on the large Russian search engine, (results will show in English

Finally: Please add your additional resources and tips that you find valuable, or share sites relating to specialized topics such as the efforts to preserve arts, for example.

Over Easy also welcomes all sharing, Topic related, or not, and Breaking News, just anything.

The gorgeous Time Lapse Vimeo of Iceland, called Legend, by Henry Jun Wah Lee:

Aleksander Schilbach grew up as Sascha, a first-generation American hailing from Mukilteo, Washington. Strangely befitting of his first name, Sascha developed a fascination with all things Russian from an early age despite not having any Slavic heritage. While still a student at Willamette University, he studied Russian language at Tavrida National University in the Crimea, Ukraine, and Eastern European politics and economy at the University of Tartu’s EuroCollege in Estonia. He graduated in 2010 from Willamette University with a BA in International Studies with a focus on Russia and a BA in Russian Language. After a dicey situation in the Crimea involving Stalin-era flat, his botched attempt to fix a natural gas-powered hot water heater and his enraged Ukrainian host mother Luda, Sascha became interested in Russian energy security in Eastern Europe. Having arrived at the Jackson School after spending the summer working on Sakhalin Island, Sascha will focus his studies on Russian energy security and Russia’s Arctic policy. If he is not drinking espresso or studying, you’ll find him cleaning his bilge and tinkering with the sailboat he calls home. Source.

*Author’s disclosure: Sascha is my nephew’s son.

Public domain image by the CIA.

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