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Protecting the Arctic Environment: The Interplay of Global and Regional Regimes

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AbstractWhat is the best division of labour between Arctic environmental institutions and the broader institutions whose spatial ambits include but exceed the Arctic? This article examines this question by narrowing in on the interplay of international institutions, especially on how such interplay may influence regime effectiveness. In focus are such salient regional and broader institutions in Arctic environmental governance as the Arctic Council and the global oceans regime based on the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, and the interplay between regional and global regimes in five areas of Arctic environmental governance: climate change, inflows of hazardous compounds, regional toxics, off shore petroleum activities, and maritime transport. The controversy over the role of Arctic institutions in the overall governance system originates in differing positions on the need for international regulation or on the usefulness of Arctic-level governance as compared to other levels. Functional interdependencies as well as legal and political realities mean that the problem-solving potential of Arctic institutions varies considerably across issue areas – and that point calls into question the wisdom of recent proposals for a comprehensive and legally binding treaty for Arctic environmental protection.

Affiliations: 1: Fridtjof Nansen


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