Arctic Ocean Governance

Elective Course | 4 ECTS | Course: CMM 47

Instructor: Rachael Lorna Johnstone

Course Catalog Description

About the Course

The Arctic is subject to rapid and substantial impacts from climate change that is facilitating expanded human use and exploitation of its resources. Governance of such a region presents many challenges and opportunities for collaboration among the Arctic states responsible for effective stewardship of their sovereign waters, other nations with interests in expanding access to Arctic resources, and the international community more generally. The present and potential future governance of Arctic nations, international collaborations that have been established to foster coordination among these nations are discussed and analyzed during the course. Potential future frameworks for Arctic governance are also evaluated and the special role of Indigenous people is highlighted.

Participation in the Arctic Circle Conference in Reykjavík, an important international forum focused on Arctic policy and governance, is an integral element of this course and provides students with a unique and important opportunity to experience high-level discussions of many challenges faced in the region, and potential emerging solutions.  Participation in the Conference also offers students the opportunity to meet and learn more about these issues and challenges from the key leaders of Arctic nations as well as other important players in the Arctic governance and policy community at this forum. 

Instructor

Rachael Lorna Johnstone is professor of law at the University of Akureyri and at Ilisimatusarfik (the University of Greenland).

Professor Johnstone specialises in Polar law: the governance of the Arctic and the Antarctic under international and domestic law. She has published widely on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, international human rights law, governance of extractive industries in the Arctic, international environmental law, state responsibility and due diligence, and Arctic strategies. Her books include Regulation of Extractive Industries: Community Engagement in the Arctic (Routledge 2020) with Anne Merrild Hansen, Arctic Governance in a Changing World (Rowman and Littlefield 2019) with Mary Durfee, and Offshore Oil and Gas Development in the Arctic under International Law: Risk and Responsibility (Brill 2015).

Professor Johnstone is an active member of the International Law Association and two thematic networks of the University of the Arctic: on Arctic Law and on Sustainable Resources and Social Responsibility. She is a member of the board of the Icelandic Human Rights Center. She is also a member of the Arctic Circle Mission Council on Greenland in the Arctic and serves on the advisory board of the Polar Research and Policy Initiative. She is the deputy member for Iceland on the Social and Human Working Group of the International Arctic Science Committee.

Professor Johnstone holds a doctorate in juridical science from the University of Toronto (2004), an M.A. in Polar Law from the University of Akureyri (2014), an LL.M. (magna cum laude) in Legal Theory from the European Academy of Legal Theory (2000) and an LL.B. (Hons) from the University of Glasgow (1999).

Description

The course will discuss the history of governance in the Arctic, both the governance of Arctic nations and the international collaborations that have been established to foster coordination among these nations. Specific contemporary governance mechanisms, such as the Arctic Council and more limited sub-regional collaborative bodies, will be discussed and analyzed. Potential future frameworks for Arctic governance will be introduced and evaluated. The special role of Indigenous people of the Arctic in the governance of this region will be highlighted. The course will involve considerable background reading outside class, active participation in discussions, and individual presentations on key issues relevant to class session topics.
Participation in the conference Arctic Circle in Reykjavík is an integrative part of this course. Registration, accommodation and transport to/from Reykjavík is the participants' own responsibility and expense.

On completion of the course, a student: 

  • can recall the evolution of governance in the Arctic to the present, as well as the contemporary governance framework in the Arctic. This includes the key participants, their roles, rights and scope of their jurisdiction over Arctic resources and geography.     
  • has demonstrated ability in critically evaluating contemporary governance mechanisms established to foster collaboration.     
  • can identify and critically evaluate challenges to achieving effective collaboration in the region.
  • can critically evaluate the potential future mechanisms that have been proposed for the Arctic to address and overcome these challenges.
  • has participated in an international conference, Arctic Circle.
  • can present group work and individual work in front of peers.
  • can critically evaluate conference sessions orally in front of peers, relating conference topics to Arctic Ocean Governance.