Canadian Approaches to Arctic Foreign Policy
Sebastian, Ciara Margaret Marie
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Throughout the Cold War the Arctic was treated as an international ‘no man’s land’. The tension created by the proximity of the Soviet Union to the other Arctic states made the development of effective Arctic foreign policies within the Arctic states almost impossible. However, the end of the Cold War resulted in the opening of political space that enabled the ‘lesser’ Arctic states to begin to have influence in the region. The Arctic states began to work together to develop forums for international cooperation on issues that impacted the Arctic region as a whole. This cooperation began with the implementation of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy aimed at controlling and monitoring the fragile Arctic environment. Arctic cooperation grew and evolved, and today we have the Arctic Council, a promising organization that most of the Arctic states treat as the primary Arctic intergovernmental body. The Arctic Council is a unique organization that has been lauded as a model upon which other international organizations would be wise to fashion themselves because of the status accorded the Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations within the Council. While the Council is truly a type of ‘soft law’ body with no real power to regulate or enforce decisions, it seems to be in the process of evolving into something more. This thesis will attempt to explain Canada’s support for the creation and maintenance of the Arctic Council. It will attempt to explain how the Government of Canada has used multilateral Arctic organizations, and in particular the Arctic Council, to further Canadian interests in the Arctic and why the Government of Canada does not use the Arctic Council as its primary intergovernmental Arctic organization, preferring instead to involve a multitude of groupings of Arctic stakeholders in order to pursue Canadian Arctic interests. It will argue that Canada’s involvement is best explained by using a modified liberal internationalism as the theoretical perspective that can best explain the development of the Arctic Council within Canada. This modified perspective also makes it possible to predict how the Arctic Council will develop in the future.