Polar Regions

Introduction

Polar Regions | Research Guide International Law

The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, the United States (Alaska), Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic nations are all members of the Arctic Council, as are organizations representing six indigenous populations. The Council operates on consensus basis, mostly dealing with environmental treaties and not addressing boundary or resource disputes. Though Arctic policy priorities differ, every Arctic nation is concerned about sovereignty/security, resource development, shipping routes, and environmental protection (climate change). Much work remains on regulatory agreements regarding shipping, tourism, and resource development in Arctic waters. Scientific research in the Arctic has long been a collaborative international effort.

Unlike Antarctica, a continent surrounded by the Southern Ocean, the Arctic is an ocean surrounded by continents. For this reason, it is governed in large part by the law of the sea, a body of unwritten but nevertheless binding rules of customary international law which were codified into the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Territorial disputes are absent in the Arctic, but, there are several existing or potential disputes over maritime boundaries and possible international straits that will likely become more important due to climate change, rising prices for natural resources, and new security concerns. As the Arctic is in crisis, international law has an important role to play, now and in the future.

Antarctica is Earth's fifth-largest and southernmost continent. It is located in the Antarctic region of the southern hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice. It has no human population of its own, except for some permanent manned scientific research stations. Seven sovereign states have claimed sectors of land in Antarctica, but none of these claims have been recognized by other countries. In 1959 the Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington to establish Antarctica as a region of peace and cooperation, and to deal with issues relating to claims of sovereignty. Its primary purpose is to ensure “in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord”. The Treaty is at the core of a number of related agreements which, together with the measures taken under the Antarctic Treaty and related agreements are often called the Antarctic Treaty system.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for legal research on the Polar Regions. It provides the basic materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → Polar regions in general and subject headings (keywords), Polar regions, Arctic, Antarctica and Antarctic Treaty (Washington, D.C., 1 December 1959) are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

Bibliography

Reference works

Recent books

Leading articles

Documents

Periodicals, serial publications

Bibliographies

Systematic classification → Polar Regions

New titles

The Peace Palace Library has a collection of over a million publications. Each week, about six hundred new titles are added to our collection: books, articles, documents, online publications, etc. On this page, access is provided to this week's new titles on the Polar Regions. It covers a wide variety of topics relating to the Arctic, the Antarctic, Spitsbergen and Greenland. These include: regional and international governance issues, peace and security, dispute settlement, climate change, environmental protection, territorial claims and border disputes, law of the sea, exploration, exploitation of oil, gas and minerals, maritime navigation, and human rights issues, such as autonomy and self-determination, the rights of indigenous peoples to land and natural resources, their cultural rights and cultural heritage.


1. Russia's far north
Russia's far north : the contested energy frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2018. - XVII, 251 pages. : illustrations. ; 25 cm. - (Routledge Contemporary Russia and Eastern Europe) Includes bibliographical references and an index. - 2018
Keywords: Russian Federation, Arctic, International relations, Natural resources, Arctic shipping routes, Indigenous peoples,

2. Maritime security implications of climate change and the Arctic under international law
Maritime security implications of climate change and the Arctic under international law : a Japanese perspective / by Chie Kojima. - Berlin : Duncker & Humblot. - Pages 273-283 In: Japanischer Vorkämpfer für die Rechtsordnung des 21. Jahrhunderts : Festschrift für Koresuke Yamauchi zum 70. Geburtstag / herausgegeben von Heinrich Menkhaus und Midori Narazaki, ISBN 9783428148455: (2017), Pages 273-283. - 2017
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3. Introduction
Introduction : Contested Russian Arctic / Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 1-8 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 1-8. - 2018
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4. Simulating Sovereignty
Simulating Sovereignty : The Role of the Arctic in Constructing Russian Post-Imperial Identity / Sergei Medvedev. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 206-215 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 206-215. - 2018
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5. Telling Domestic and International Policy Stories
Telling Domestic and International Policy Stories : The Case of Russian Arctic Policy / Daria Gritsenko, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 191-205 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 191-205. - 2018
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6. Disappearing White Fish and Remaining Black Fish in the Lower Ob' River and Its Tributaries
Disappearing White Fish and Remaining Black Fish in the Lower Ob' River and Its Tributaries : Conflict over the Use of Fish Resources between Indigenous People and Non-Locals / Yuka Oishi. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 173-188 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 173-188. - 2018
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7. Cutting through Channels
Cutting through Channels : Local Entrepreneurship of Indigenous Actors in Arctic Russia / Masanori Goto. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 162-172 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 162-172. - 2018
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8. Are Finnish Firms willing to Explore the Russian Maritime and Offshore Industry?
Are Finnish Firms willing to Explore the Russian Maritime and Offshore Industry? : Perceptions of Finnish SMEs of the Russian Market and Export Collaboration / Hanna Mäkinen, Eini Haaja. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 147-161 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 147-161. - 2018
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9. Russian Arctic Development and Environmental Discourse
Russian Arctic Development and Environmental Discourse / Masahiro Tokunaga. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 129-146 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 129-146. - 2018
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10. Examining the Execution of Russian Military-Security Policies and Programs in the Arctic
Examining the Execution of Russian Military-Security Policies and Programs in the Arctic / Pavel K. Baev. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 113-125 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 113-125. - 2018
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11. Potential Transboundary Maritime Energy Disputes in the Arctic
Potential Transboundary Maritime Energy Disputes in the Arctic : The Russian Perspective / Valery Konyshev, Alexander Sergunin. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 96-112 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 96-112. - 2018
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12. The Twofold Development of the Arctic
The Twofold Development of the Arctic : Where do the Arctic States Stand? / Lassi Heininen. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 84-95 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 84-95. - 2018
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13. Planning for a Sustainable Arctic
Planning for a Sustainable Arctic : Regional Development in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (Russia) / Daria Gritsenko, Elena Efimova. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 67-82 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 67-82. - 2018
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14. Northern Sea Route (NSR) Shipping, Current Status, and Feasibility
Northern Sea Route (NSR) Shipping, Current Status, and Feasibility / Natsuhiko Otsuka, Toru Tamura, Masahiko Furuichi. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 43-63 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 43-63. - 2018
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15. Perspectives on Oil and Gas Development in the Russian Arctic
Perspectives on Oil and Gas Development in the Russian Arctic / Masumi Motomura. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 27-42 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 27-42. - 2018
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16. Economic Development of the Arctic Regions of Russia
Economic Development of the Arctic Regions of Russia / Shinichiro Tabata, Tomoko Tabata$aut$!. - London : New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. - Pages 1-26 In: Russia's Far North : the Contested Energy Frontier / edited by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Shinichiro Tabata, Daria Gritsenko and Masanori Goto, ISBN 9781138307544: (2018), Pages 1-26. - 2018
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Librarian's choice

  • Kristensen, K.S. and J. Rahbek-Clemmensen, Greenland and the International Politics of a Changing Arctic: Postcolonial Paradiplomacy between High and Low Politics, Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY, Routledge, 2018. Showcase item

    Greenland and the International Politics of a Changing Arctic examines the international politics of semi-independent Greenland in a changing and increasingly globalised Arctic. Without sovereign statehood, but with increased geopolitical importance, independent foreign policy ambitions, and a solidified self-image as a trailblazer for Arctic indigenous peoples' rights, Greenland is making its mark on the Arctic and is in turn affected - and empowered - by Arctic developments. The chapters in this collection analyse how a distinct Greenlandic foreign policy identity shapes political ends and means, how relations to its parent state of Denmark is both a burden and a resource, and how Greenlandic actors use and influence regional institutional settings as well as foreign states and commercial actors to produce an increasingly independent - if not sovereign - entity with aims and ambitions for regional change in the Arctic. This is the first comprehensive and interdisciplinary examination of Greenland's international relations and how they are connected to wider Arctic politics. It will be essential reading for students and scholars interested in Arctic governance and security, international relations, sovereignty, geopolitics, paradiplomacy, indigenous affairs and anyone concerned with the political future of the Arctic.

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Database

Subscription-based

  • Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Antarctica, by Silja Vöneky and Sange Addison-Agyei. The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (MPEPIL) is a comprehensive online resource containing over 1600 peer-reviewed articles on every aspect of public international law. It has been re-designed to improve the look and feel of the site, and the search functionality. Written and edited by an incomparable team of over 800 scholars and practitioners, published in partnership with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, and updated throughout the year. All included articles are peer-reviewed and treat international law from a global/regional perspective. This major reference work is essential for anyone researching or teaching international law.

Free Access

  • Antarctic Treaty Database (Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty)
    In this database you can find the text of measures adopted by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (including all recommendations, measures, decisions and resolutions) from 1961 to now together with their attachments and information on their legal status. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the texts in the database, only the text of the printed version of the Final Report of the ATCM is the authentic text. You can find photographic copies of the printed version under “Final Reports” below.  The data contained in this database on Parties to the Treaty and the Environment Protocol and on the approval of Recommendations and Measures derive from the official data maintained by the United States State Department as Depositary of the Antarctic Treaty.

  • Final Reports (Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty)
    Most of Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and Special Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting Final Reports are now available in .PDF format for browsing or downloading.

  • Meeting Documents (Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty)
    This database gives access to the available material presented to the ATCM as Working Papers, Information Papers and Secretariat Papers.

  • Documentation Centre (Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty)
    The Documentation Centre provides an online catalogue of the publications in the Secretariat´s library and a digital set of documents concerning Antarctic legislation, policy and programmes.

Blogs

  • The Impact of Offshore Oil Drilling in the Arctic

    In July 2015 the Obama administration has given Royal Dutch Shell PLC approval to begin with limited exploratory oil drilling off Alaska’s northwest coast, in the Chukchi Sea. The permits were granted despite the nationwide protest (where people in 13 states gathered for a “ShellNo” Day of Action) and protests by many environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Friends of the Earth. In this blog I will give a summary of the history of Arctic drilling and I will also discuss shortly the environmental concerns and technological and safety risks relating to offshore oil drilling in the Arctic.

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  • Arctic Sovereignty: Icy Roads to the North Pole

    Canada, the US, Norway, Russia, and Denmark have been gathering scientific evidence for more than a decade in an effort to increase their continental shelf claims in the Arctic Ocean Region.The potential delimitation dispute between Canada, Russia and Denmark seems to focus on the Lomonosov Ridge. The North Pole is located about 400 nautical miles from the northernmost island of Canada, Denmark, Norway and the Russian Federation. Under international law coastal state rights over the water columns are limited to the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone, using the state’s territorial sea baselines as starting point.

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  • Hans Island : Crisis in the Arctic?

    Compared with other regions on the planet, the Arctic is warming faster. More of the Arctic is free of ice for longer periods. The possibilities for exploitation of natural resources and for control over Northern shipping lanes have prompted countries’ renewed interest in their competing claims to the region. Recently, Denmark (for Greenland) and Canada have clashed over their claims to a small, barren rock known as Hans Island.

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  • Norway and Russian Federation Sign Maritime Delimitation Agreement

    In Murmansk on Wednesday 15th September 2010 Norway and the Russian Federation signed a treaty concerning the maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. The disputed territory covered 175,000 square km (67,600 sq miles), an area mainly in the Barents Sea between proven petroleum reserves on the Russian and Norwegian sides.

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  • The International Politics of Whaling: Recent Developments

    Whales, large, mysterious, intelligent, and endangered. Has any mammal inspired such romantic images of the sea and love for nature as much as the whale, yet aroused such controversy in global environmental conservation? King of the Seas, symbol of the environmental movement, meat and oil for commercial whaling. Over the years, large-scale commercial whaling has depleted a number of whale populations to a significant extent, resulting in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) issuing a moratorium on whaling in 1986. Some recent developments will illustrate the highly controversial nature of whaling.

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  • Arctic Council ratifies the Tromsø Declaration

    The Arctic Council meets at foreign minister level every second year, approving projects and guidelines. Due to the increased activity and interest in the Arctic, the Tromsø meeting decided that the Arctic Council from now on will meet at political level once a year. Denmark will take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council from Norway.

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  • Holiday on Ice?

    Tourism is an important source of income, prosperity and happiness for many people, but not everywhere. The increasing number of cruiseships, loaded with tourists, heading for Antarctica threatens the fragile ecosystem, habitat of many animals, in this region. Tourism to the frozen continent has increased nearly ten-fold in the last 15 years.

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Arctic

The Arctic Centre is a national and international hub of information and centre of excellence which conducts multidisciplinary research in changes in the Arctic region. It is located in the Arktikum House, Rovaniemi, Finland.

Antarctic

See also

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Systematic classification → Polar Regions