KCIS 2011 Conference
For most of their history, the states of northern Eurasia and North America have directed their foreign policies anywhere but northward. In the early twenty-first century, however, the emergent forces of globalization and climate change have turned a vast, inhospitable region from a neglected back yard to an international arena where the evident benefits of cooperation must compete in the minds of governments with traditional tendencies toward rivalry and the consequent risk of intensified conflict. Rapid physical changes in the region have opened up the prospects of new shipping routes, access to mineral resources and fisheries, opportunities for scientific research, and the accompanying risks to a fragile environment, to aboriginal ways of life, and to national and international security.
Most immediately affected by these changes are the states bordering on the region - Canada, the United States, Russia, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark (and, by association with the last three, the European Union). But while there is no parallel here to the Antarctic's status as a ""common heritage" of humanity insulated from territorial claims, states from well outside the region have asserted - if only through symbolic actions - their national interest in its scientific and environmental prospects, its security and, above all, its resources. Transnational corporations, NGOs and other non-state actors, as well as international organizations such as the Arctic Council and NATO, also crowd onto the stage. And the voices of the aboriginal peoples, in both national and international fora, are being heard as never before.
Most of the states ringing the Arctic have, in recent years, begun to develop strategic visions to frame or accompany the mix of social, cultural, environmental and economic policies through which they have sought to manage their sectors of the region, including their territorial waters. Abundant evidence of well-established cooperation among them has, in recent years, come to be overshadowed by rhetoric of rivalry and conflict, usually focused on territorial claims. Accompanying these competing national interests are varying understandings of security in the region, from narrowly military to comprehensive, and from national to multilateral. For the armed forces of Canada and the United States, therefore, the Arctic poses a set of questions transcending those that challenged them during the Cold War.
The conference deliberated on these questions through four panels, interspersed with keynote speakers who introduced and highlighted the major issues. This conference was hosted and organized by Queen's Centre for International Relations (QCIR), and The Defence Management Studies Program at Queen's, together with the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College (USAWC), and the Canadian Land Forces Doctrine and Training System (LFDTS).