Spanning eight States with various political ideologies, the Arctic is an extremely difficult area to regulate holistically. Considering the international nature of the region’s challenges, how should Arctic governance be adapted to ensure it will not freeze?
Committee on Foreign Affairs I
Chaired by Ani Honarchian (AM). Covered by Nareh Honarchian (AM)
Executive summary
The Arctic region faces many challenges of international nature that amplify the need for a stable governance system suitable for all Arctic States and the Indigenous populations in the region. Global warming, globalisation and the urge to exploit the Arctic’s natural resources have increased international interest in the region. While these processes have opened up new maritime routes and new opportunities for the development of the region, its governance does not fully manage to control the processes. Therefore, there is a need for a reevaluation of Arctic governance to ensure it adapts to the newly emerging challenges.
The Arctic States are the ones which have territories within the Arctic region: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Russian Federation, and the United States.
The natural resources of the Arctic are the mineral and animal resources within the Arctic Circle that can provide utility or economic benefit to humans (e.g. oil, gas, iron, copper, zinc phosphates, rare earths and diamonds).
Listen to the audio Topic Overview
Arctic governance has been a matter of discussion for a long period. Different states want to gain the privileges the region offers, enhancing the need for a more balanced governance strategy.1 Several strategy implementations and historic challenges have led to the governance structure now in place within the region. Combining eight states with different political agendas and a population of more than four million Indigenous people, coordinating Arctic governance is challenging.2

The ongoing challenges of globalisation, climate change, increase international interest, Russia’s invasion in Ukraine and a frozen main governance body in the region drastically transformed the Arctic.3 It caused significant instabilities and enhanced the need for a proper governance structure.
Introduction to Arctic Governance
The Arctic Institute (2018). International Politics and Governance in the Arctic. Link 
Oxford Academic (2021). Arctic Governance. Link
Council on Foreign Relations (2018). Arctic Governance. Link
Fundamental challenges
The transfer of authority and responsibility to public functions from central governance
Legally binding agreement between countries.
Arctic Portal (2021). Arctic Council. Link 
Arctic Environment (1991). The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy. Link
 Arctic Portal (2021). Arctic Council. Link 
The Arctic Institute (2020). The Nuances of Geopolitics in the Arctic. Link
 Air University (2020). Economic Prospects for the Arctic: What Does It Mean for the United States? Link
The Arctic Institute (2020). The Nuances of Geopolitics in the Arctic. Link 
 The Arctic Yearbook. Governance & Governance in the Arctic: An Introduction to Arctic Yearbook 2015. Link 
 Arctic Circle (2022). Arctic Council: Structure, Work and Achievements. Link
 German Arctic Office (2020). Arctic Governance. Link 
 Defense News (2020). China’s strategic interest in the Arctic goes beyond economics. Link
 Council on Foreign Relations (2018). Arctic Governance. Link
European Commission (2012). EU's Arctic Policy: Questions and Answers. Link
U.S. Department of State (2022). Joint Statement on Arctic Council Cooperation Following Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine. Link
Slaw (2022). Is the Arctic Council Completely Frozen? Link
Measures in Place
In 2008, the Kingdom of Denmark put forth the Ilulissat declaration.18 signed by five coastal states bordering the Arctic - Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russian Federation and the US to prevent competitiveness between the countries of interest. The declaration established peaceful cooperation strategies and grounds for further communication. This cooperation in the Arctic can also become a staple for future endeavours.
The EU’s Arctic policy was established to amplify an innovative green transition, where future-compatible job creation in innovative sectors can be established. In 2021, the EU updated the Arctic Policy19 to enhance the Arctic region's preservation further. The updates also target climate change and support the sustainable development of the Arctic region while also benefiting Arctic communities.20
Arctic Portal (2008). The Ilulissat Declaration. Link  
European Commission (2021). The Arctic Policy. Link  
European Union External Action (2021). The EU in the Arctic. Link 
Key stakeholders
The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the EU’s diplomatic service. EEAS manages strategic partnerships and international cooperation with non-EU countries. It aids chief legislatures in implementing EU security and diplomatic policies.25
European External Action Service
The European Commission is the EU’s main legislative suggesting and implementing body. It can impact legislation such as the Arctic Policy.24 As it has the responsibility to develop Europe, including the Arctic and its inhabitants, sustainably. In addition, some of the members of the Arctic Council are EU Member States, thus, the impact of the EC is significant.
European Commission
Arctic Council
Arctic Council.21 is the intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation in the Arctic. It brings together eight Arctic states, six Indigenous people organisations and different state and non-state observers. Although the Arctic council is not legally independent, it is constantly working on publishing legally-binding agreements among the Arctic states”.

Arctic States have land territories within the Arctic and have the biggest legislative power on Arctic regional issues.22

Arctic States
The Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR) is a recurring conference for parliamentarians representing the eight Arctic countries and the European Parliament.23

The Barents Euro-Arctic Council is the official body for intergovernmental cooperation in the Barents region. It aims to enhance mutual strategic development.26
Barents Euro-Arctic Council
The Northern Dimensions (ND) policy is brought forward by Finland together with Iceland, Norway, Russian and the European Union aiming to lay ground for their fruitful cooperation.The ND provides tools and techniques aimed to further develop the cooperation within the predetermined areas of practice.27 Since March 9th 2022, the European Union, Iceland and Norway released a statement regarding suspending activities with Russia and Belarus.28
Northern Dimensions
Permanent Participant status in the Arctic Council: Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich'in International Council, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, and the Saami Council.
State actors pursue state-related interests as exemplified by their domestic and foreign policies, non-state actors have varied self-motivated interests
German Arctic Office (2019). Arctic Council. Link  
Arctic Council. Arctic States. Link  
The Standing Committee of the Arctic region (2009). Link
European Commission (2021). The Arctic Policy. Link
 European Union External Action (2022). Diplomatic Corps. Link 
Barents Euro-Arctic Council. Link
 Northern Dimensions. Link 
Northern Dimension Policy (2022). Joint Statement․ Link
Let your chair know what you think
The U.S. Embassy Oslo is delighted to be invited to provide forewords for the Committee of Foreign Affairs I. The Arctic—home to more than four million people, extensive natural resources, and unique ecosystems—is undergoing a dramatic transformation. As an Arctic Nation and member of the Arctic Council, the United States seeks an Arctic region that is peaceful, stable, prosperous, and cooperative. Secretary Blinken has emphasized that “the Arctic is more than a strategically or economically significant region. It’s home to our people. Its hallmark has been and must remain peaceful cooperation.” Despite the challenges to Arctic cooperation resulting from Russia’s war in Ukraine, the United States will work to sustain institutions for Arctic cooperation, including the Arctic Council, and position these institutions to manage the impacts of increasing activity in the region. We also seek to uphold international law, rules, norms, and standards in the Arctic. The challenges and opportunities in the Arctic cannot be solved by national governments alone. The United States will strengthen and build on coalitions of private sector; academia; civil society; and state, local, and Tribal actors to encourage and harness innovative ideas to tackle these challenges.


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Motion for a resolution
Submitted by:
Sorin Afanasiu (MD), Joel Albrecht (DE), Giulia Bardelli (IT), Joan Baptista Blasi (ES), Lucas Cadman (UK), Jonah Keating (CY), Kateryna Korpalo (UA), Melissa Lelli (CH), Zuzanna Miernik (PL), Arda Obayonay (TR), Beatriz Ruffeil (PT), Raven Staal (NL), Val Stankovič Pangerc (SI), Ani Honarchian (AM, Chairperson)
The European Youth Parliament aims to recommit all Arctic States to cooperate on common governance issues. It aims to establish a practical governance system with respect to all stakeholders following democratic principles, such as transparency, equal representation, and human rights. Additionally, we aim to regulate governance activities in the Arctic on an international and global scale,

A. Acknowledging the inefficiency caused by the lack of a standardised framework for the implementation of decisions made by any governing group of nations, such as the Arctic Council,

B. Alarmed by the flawed nature of declarations and institutions that do not sufficiently consider key non state actors, such as Indigenous People, in decision making processes, thereby rendering their voices as less influential regarding matters which directly affect them,

C. Noting with regret that the Arctic Council is unable to effectively fulfil its aims because of
i. dependence on unanimous decisions, allowing obstruction by a single permanent Arctic Council Member State
ii. being unable to create and enforce legally-binding policies,

D. Noting with concern the lack of legislative and executive power in preexisting Arctic institutions, therefore increasing tensions and inability to tackle geopolitical issues sustainably,

E. Aware of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, resulting in the freezing of the operations of the Arctic Council,

F. Noting that the strategic development of trade routes (e.g. Northern Sea Route) increases the accessibility of the Arctic, further encouraging countries to utilise the region,

G. Recognising that there is no universal definition of the geopolitical borders of the Arctic region,

H. Saddened that there is no legally binding agreement that dictates the distribution of sovereignty of newly emerging landmass due to melting ice,

I. Fully alarmed that Russia is violating the integrity of the other Arctic countries’ by deploying military and surveillance vessels in their respective waters and airspace,

J. Acknowledging the opportunities of resources exploitation in Arctic,

K. Deploring the territorial disputes cause by the natural resource exploitation,

L. Deeply saddened by the disproportionate effect of climate change on Arctic countries, such as rising sea levels and melting ice caps, increasing the necessity of a common governance structure,

M. Deploring the absence of treaties that prevent the use of international waters for the testing and development of weapons in the Arctic region by all interested parties;

1. Encourages the Arctic Council to introduce a detailed guideline for the implementation strategies of the decisions made by the Council, while consulting locals and expert working groups;

2. Requests the Arctic Council to include Indigenous People into its consensus policy by allowing for a decision to be revoked if all permanent Arctic Council participants1 agree, thus making their voices heard and actively including them in the decision making process;

3. Urges the Arctic States to create a framework which defines the fundamental regulations of the Arctic Council in order to improve the Council by:
a. withholding the Chairmanship position from countries that are participating in a military conflict, thus improving effectiveness of the Council upon the declaration of a country as an aggressor state by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly;
b. inviting the International Court of Justice (ICJ) through the General Assembly of the United Nations to resolve territorial disputes between Arctic Member States;

4. Creating a comprehensive international treaty following the example of the Antarctic Treaty that would declare:
a. the Arctic Circle to be used for peaceful cooperation,
b. commit to future legislative cooperation in tackling common Arctic issues;

5. Urges the Arctic Council and Norway in its capacity of next chairman of the Arctic Council to ensure that constructive continuous dialogue between all Arctic Council Member States is pursued regarding scientific and environmental issues despite the Arctic States’ political agenda;

6. Invites the Arctic Council to address the increasing use of trade routes for shipping through the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic Circle by increasing the activity of the working group Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAMO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO);

7. Urging Arctic States to ensure fair resource and territory allocation by:
a. requesting a treaty implemented by the IMO for clear definitions of exclusive economic zones (EEZs) around newly emerged islands,
b. encouraging the eight Arctic States to agree upon territory definitions through the Standing Committee of the Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR);

8. Recommends the UN disarmament committee to prevent military escalation, protect local populations and environmental safety of the Arctic by;
a. a multilateral agreement on the limitation of weapons testing,
b. giving the signatories the ability to impose financial sanctions on any country violating the agreement;

9. Requests the Arctic States to continue to refer to the the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and ICJ rulings to determine border disputes;

10. Urges the Arctic Council to suggest a treaty that prevents all countries from using resources on disputed territory in the Arctic High Seas that are not internationally recognised at the time of signing the treaty;

11. Strongly supports the efforts of the Arctic Council regarding environmental protection matters such as the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic, Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation.
Permanent Arctic Council participants include the 6 Indigenous Peoples’ organisations of the Arctic Council: Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Saami Council.
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