Conference on Arctic Security Agrees that International Cooperation is the Norm Among Arctic Nations

February 15, 2013

Contact: Lee McDavid,

A meeting co-sponsored by Dartmouth of high-level international Arctic experts agreed that the major security issue facing the Arctic is not a new Great Game of military confrontation. Rather, the Arctic is a “zone of peace” where nations can enhance existing regional and international cooperation and manage economic pressures for resource development, while addressing the health and environmental concerns of all Arctic peoples.

UArctic Security Conference at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC

Forty scientists, academics, politicians, policy experts, military officials, and private sectors leaders in shipping and energy held wide-ranging closed-door discussions at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in Washington, D.C. They agreed on specific Arctic policy recommendations covering issues from environment protections related to shipping and oil and gas development, health and societal issues faced by indigenous populations, security cooperation by Arctic nations, to innovations that strengthen governance arrangements, especially the work of the intergovernmental forum, the Arctic Council.

The forum on “Euro-Atlantic Action Plan for Cooperation and Enhanced Arctic Security,” held February 11-12, 2013, was convened by the University of the Arctic Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy (IACP), which is co-chaired by Dartmouth College's Institute of Arctic Studies at the Dickey Center for International Understanding and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, in partnership with the Carnegie Endowment’s Russia and Eurasia Program. Director of the Dickey Center, Daniel Benjamin, and Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science and Director of the Dickey Center's Institute of Arctic Studies, Ross Virginia, were among the experts taking part in the discussions.

“This meeting is an important continuation of the work begun in 2008 by IACP and the Carnegie in promoting an interdisciplinary dialog between the academic, policy, and indigenous communities who share interests in geopolitical and environmental security of the Arctic,” said Ross Virginia. “This forum sought to help improve Arctic governance by identifying priorities and pathways to action for decision makers.”

The forum opened with remarks by Alaskan Senators Lisa Murkowski (R) and Mark Begich (D). Senator Begich used the meeting to publicly announce a package of legislation addressing Arctic issues that he will be proposing to Congress. Both Senators emphasized the strategic importance of the Arctic to U.S. international interests.

Representatives from all eight Arctic Council member states (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the U.S.) attended the forum that included the Russian and U.S. Senior Officials to the Council, the Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, representatives from international energy and shipping companies, the director of polar programs at the National Science Foundation, as well as U.S. State Department officials and members of the Coast Guard and military security from several nations.

In order to encourage open discussion, IACP forums are run under the Chatham House Rule, which states that all participants are free to use the information discussed but it cannot be attributed to any individual participant. A report on the forum and recommendations supported by the participants will be released in the Spring. The report will contain specific recommendations useful to the Arctic Council, Arctic States, and Arctic indigenous organizations. The report will be published in May 2013, prior to the next ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council.

The forum’s sponsors will issue the report in Washington, Brussels and Moscow. The conference co-sponsors plan to create a Web-based forum of experts on Arctic issues that will monitor the work of the Arctic Council and its working groups, support research and policy issues on the Council’s agenda, continue the dialog among experts on topics of research and policy, and focus attention on the Arctic and the work of institutions involved in its governance and development.