Arctic policy for
A review essay
As a result of climate change, a new region is opening up. The melting of the
polar ice in the Arctic, however slow it may be, unlocks huge reserves of
minerals and hydrocarbons, makes new coastal passages navigable, and
changes northerners’ way of life. At the same time, the risks of intrusion, of
pollution, and of environmental deterioration grow. No wonder that these
developments have spurred a lively debate in every Arctic country, especially
in Canada, which has an extensive frontier on the Arctic Ocean and large
land holdings in the polar region. Diverging interests and competing claims
in the Arctic could potentially lead to regional conflicts.
Three well-known Canadian experts on the north—Franklyn Griffiths of
the University of Toronto, Rob Huebert from Calgary, and F. Whitney
Lackenbauer from Waterloo—have written a series of well-thought-through
papers on the future of the Arctic.1 They want to start Canadians on their way
Helga Haftendorn is professor emeritus of political science and international relations at the
Free University of Berlin.
1 Franklyn Griffiths, “Towards a Canadian Arctic strategy,” Foreign Policy for Canada’s
Tomorrow no. 1, Canadian International Council, June 2009; Rob Huebert, “Canadian
Arctic sovereignty and security in a transforming circumpolar world,” Foreign policy for
Canada’s Tomorrow no. 3, Canadian International Council, July 2009; F. Whitney
Lackenbauer, “From polar race to polar saga: An integrated strategy for Canada and the
circumpolar world,” Foreign policy for Canada’s Tomorrow no. 4, Canadian
International Council, July 2009.
| International Journal | Autumn 2009 | 1139 |
| Reviews |
to discussing and designing an adequate Arctic strategy. The terminology of
all three contributions, however, is slightly confusing, at least to a foreigner.
The authors use the term “Arctic” alternatively for the Canadian north—the
country’s polar region stretching north of the Arctic Circle (660 30’), the
territory north of the 100 C isotherm in July—and the lands beyond the tree
line.2 In this piece, “Arctic” will connote the larger, circumpolar region, and
“north” the Canadian north. In a similar