Arctic Conflict Potential:
Towards an extra-Arctic perspective
Juha Käpylä & Harri Mikkola
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
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According to a popular notion, huge natural resource
reserves located in the Arctic region will lead to a conflictual "gold rush"
when Arctic states compete to claim these reserves for themselves.
More precisely, there is the potential for interstate
conflict in the Arctic area related to unresolved border issues, control of the
Arctic maritime routes, and demarcation of the resource-rich continental
shelves under the Arctic Ocean.
However, Arctic states have little to gain by letting the
Arctic dynamics slip into a conflict state that would create an unfruitful
investment environment in the region.
Relatively well-functioning regional and international
governance mechanisms further defuse the interstate conflict potential in the
region. Despite the divergent political interests of various players, the
intra-Arctic conflict potential remains low.
Should interstate conflict surface in the Arctic, the source
is most likely to be related to complex global dynamics that may spill over to
the region and which cannot be addressed with existing Arctic governance
mechanisms. This extra-Arctic perspective should be increasingly taken into
consideration by scholars and policy-makers.