Hydrocarbon activity can be both harmful and hazardous. It is harmful if, in the course of normal ... Read more
Hydrocarbon activity can be both harmful and hazardous. It is harmful if, in the course of normal operations, it damages its surrounding environment and/or the interests of other states. States and operators should implement a number of technical measures to ensure that the impacts remain below the legally relevant threshold of ‘significant’ harm. However, hydrocarbon activities are also inherently hazardous because there is always a risk of a low probability-high impact accident, e.g., an oil spill or an explosion. The harsh conditions of the Arctic coupled with its sensitive biodiversity mean that activities in the Arctic are more hazardous than in more temperate parts of the World.
This paper addresses three themes to clarify the rights and responsibilities of states pursuing offshore hydrocarbon development in the Arctic: international law regarding permanent sovereignty and constraints to protect the environment, the interests of other states and the rights of indigenous and other peoples; the role and limitations of the Arctic Council; and the challenge of indigenous sovereignty and indigenous rights.
On pretty much any measure of international comparison, Iceland is a little fish. Nevertheless, i ... Read more
On pretty much any measure of international comparison, Iceland is a little fish. Nevertheless, its geographical location next to the Big Pond that is the Arctic Ocean has put it in a position of influence in a region of growing international importance.
In this paper, we explore Iceland’s influence in the Arctic region based on international relations considerations such as its political alliances; and based on international law: Iceland’s rights and responsibilities.
The paper presents the Arctic Council and Iceland’s role within it before turning to issues that are governed outside of the Arctic Council system, in particular, Arctic fisheries and maritime boundaries. The paper explains Iceland’s approach to Arctic cooperation in light of its published policy documents and explores the tools available to Iceland to defend its interests.
This paper explores the interests and influence of Iceland in the Arctic. Iceland’s position as a ... Read more
This paper explores the interests and influence of Iceland in the Arctic. Iceland’s position as a member of the Arctic Council is the starting point, examining how this high level intergovernmental forum enables Iceland to exercise influence that belies the size of its population, economy or security capacity. This is contrasted with the exclusion of Iceland from the closer “Arctic Five” talks on Central Arctic Ocean governance and what steps Iceland can take to ensure its legal and economic interests in the seas are protected. The paper reviews the Icelandic Arctic policy, based on Hagsmunir Íslands á norðurslóðum, in light of the two earlier Arctic policy statements, Ísland á norðurslóðum (Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2008) and the Parliamentary Resolution on Iceland’s Arctic Policy (2011), the interests of different Icelandic stakeholders, and the objectives of other Arctic participants (Arctic and non-Arctic States, indigenous peoples, environmental NGOs and business). The approach is interdisciplinary, drawing from international relations scholarship, international law, development economics and broader research in Arctic Studies.
In this paper, Professor Johnstone explores the potential for the Arctic Council to initiate norm ... Read more
In this paper, Professor Johnstone explores the potential for the Arctic Council to initiate norms of international environmental law. The hypothesis to be explored is whether the Arctic Council can be equally or even more effective by developing non-binding standards in the Arctic as it can by pursuing ‘hard law’, for example, through binding treaty agreements. Challenges facing the Arctic Council as an institution in establishing binding norms will be discussed, including international and domestic political barriers to treaty-making and the difficulties of opening binding instruments to States outside of the Arctic. On the other hand, the vulnerability of non-binding standards to political wind-changes means that non-binding standards may not be sufficient to protect the Arctic environment and there may still be a role for treaty-based norms.