International Cooperation in the Arctic

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2016-60-7-104-112

A. Zagorskii, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (


The article summarizes the findings of contemporary studies of international cooperation and conflict in the dynamically changing maritime Arctic, currently conducted in the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences. This research concentrates on but is not limited to such areas as Arctic Governance, agenda and major areas of international cooperation, conventional and unconventional security issues, policies by Arctic and non-Arctic states interested. The article argues that, notwithstanding the actual international crisis, the Arctic landscape is characterized by high level of legal certainty and low potential for interstate conflicts. This is mainly due to the clear definition of the sovereignty and sovereign rights limits of coastal states in the Law of the Sea, the largely completed delimitation of maritime boundaries, as well as the consensus to orderly settle all eventual disputes on the basis of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. As a result, Arctic states assess conventional military threats in the region as low. At the same time, they register an increase in non-military risks generated by climate change and growing economic activities, pay particular attention to environmental and human security, as well as maritime safety. Member states of the Arctic Council have embarked on the road of expanding cooperation in order to address those challenges more effectively. Despite the current low in relations between Russia and the West, and the suspension of many cooperative projects in the energy or security sectors, cooperation continues as demonstrated, inter alia, by adoption of the Polar Code, the Oslo Declaration Concerning the Prevention of Unregulated High Seas Fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean, as well as by continued work of the Arctic Council. Although the likely effect of the present day crisis bears the danger of losing many opportunities for intensified cooperation and for overcoming the fragmentation of the Arctic security space, it is unlikely to lead to a new arms race.


Arctic, Russia, maritime boundaries, continental shelf, security, cooperation 


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For citation:
Zagorskii A. International Cooperation in the Arctic. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2016, vol. 60, No 7, pp. 104-112.

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