The club within the club: the challenge of a soft law framework in a global Arctic context

Christopher R. Rossi

a Adjunct Faculty of Law, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA  

【Abstract】 Challenges to Arctic governance presented by rapid ice melt are assessed in light of structural problems facing the Arctic Council, the region’s “preeminent” soft law regime structure. This paper argues the territorializing temptations of the sub-regional Arctic 5 coastal states, which among themselves may overlap and conflict, nevertheless align to keep the Arctic Council focus on functional objectives, notwithstanding attempts at internal reform, calls for a new Arctic treaty, and emerging assessments of a global understanding of Arctic issues, as represented by the newly founded Arctic Circle Assembly. Various jurisdictional designs in the Arctic Ocean, including extended continental shelf delimitations, combine to preference Arctic 5 interests over revisions to the soft law and functional orientation of the current Arctic regime structure.

【Keyword】 Arctic Council;Arctic 5;Arctic Circle Assembly;soft law;niche governance;pacta tertiis;sovereignty