The Arctic did not play a prominent role in the emerging global climate science, neither did polar research. There was no scientific reason to ignore polar regions, their roles being previously recognized in the international polar year efforts. However, for the Arctic, the Cold War political setting created major obstacles for international research collaboration. The region was divided between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), led by the United States, and the Warsaw Pact, led by the Soviet Union, with Sweden and Finland as non-aligned nations squeezed between the two superpowers.78 Both land and sea were heavily militarized, including radar stations for early warning of long distance missiles and tests of nuclear weapons in the Aleutian Islands and on Novaya Zemlya.79 Heininen has written that the Cold War had "transformed the region first into a military flank, then a military front or even a 'military theater.'"80 Many proposals for arms control and confidence building were put forth but the formal agreements did not include the Arctic.
Later, conflicts over contested marine territories were also increasingly coming to the fore through claims for larger zones of exclusive rights for economic exploitation, as seen by the so-called fishing wars or cod wars.81 The extensions of sovereignty claims allowed even more freedom for militarization. The same year as the United Nations Convention on Law of the Seas was signed - 1982 - a Swedish diplomat wrote that the Arctic was one of the most heavily militarized areas in the world and that the Law of the Sea and new zones of sovereignty made areas inaccessible to research that had been open only a decade earlier. For example, the emerging new regime concerning the high seas greatly hampered a Swedish polar expedition in 1980, when the Soviet Union would not allow sampling on its northern continental shelf.82 This setting for research collaboration can be placed in contrast with Antarctica, where the International Geophysical Year had led to the creation of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) to coordinate research.
In spite of political tensions, the Arctic was not devoid of cooperation. Indigenous peoples in the region started to organize across borders with the creation of the Saami Council in 1956 and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in 1977. The Nordic countries had a cooperation focusing on the northern regions of the Nordic countries, which started in 1967 under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers.83 In 1982, a
78 Young and Osherenko, Polar Politics. Creating International Environmental Regimes, 24, 190 ff.
79 Heininen, "Circumpolar International Relations and Geopolitics," 207-208.
80 Heininen, "Circumpolar International Relations and Geopolitics," 218.
81 School of International Services American University, "The Cod War. Case 402 in the Mandala Pro-jecs' Inventory on Conflics and the Environment," www.american.edu/TED/icefish.htm (Accessed 29 Sept. 2006).
82 Bo Johnson Theutenberg, "Polaromradena - politik och folkratt," in Polarforskning. Forr, nu och i framtiden, ed. Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, 40-55 (Stockholm: Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, 1982).
83 Heininen, "Circumpolar International Relations and Geopolitics," 215.
Northern Sciences Network was established under UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Programme.84 In spite of these initiatives, the general picture for the Arctic differed from the global political development, with geopolitics and security issues taking preeminence over ideals of multilateral cooperation. Realists' perspectives with state security interests in focus serve well to describe international relations in the Arctic region at this time.
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