Analysis of the policy process

During the policy process, it became increasingly clear that the Senior Arctic Officials reasserted their prerogative to have the initiative when it came to policy recommendations. The United States drove this issue, but appears to have had agreement on the basic principle from several other countries. Supporting this interpretation is the fact that some countries sent high-level climate negotiators to the Policy Drafting Team from the beginning. One can speculate why the United States did not, but based on interviews with people involved in the process, it appears to have been a misjudgement of the role of this group. The shift came after the Svalbard informal meeting, at which the US chief climate negotiator was present and where the United States took several steps to keep from being bound by the ACIA scientists and indigenous peoples' presentation of how Arctic climate change should be framed. For countries whose climate policies were in line with the scientific findings, such a demarcation would obviously not have been as important, even if they agreed on the principle of separating science and policy. 219

As the process became unclear, the indigenous peoples lost some of their formal platform as Permanent Participants. Instead much of the action appears to have gone on behind the scenes in informal talks among the Senior Arctic Officials. The political tool that the Permanent Participants used, instead, was to threaten bad publicity for the Arctic Council, and in particular bad publicity for the US State Department. US senators were allies in this game of placing climate change on the political agenda and provided the indigenous peoples (by way of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference) with an alternative public political platform in a congressional hearing. This strategy played directly into the negotiations for the policy document and internal US politics and thus strengthened the negotiation position for the countries who wanted a strong policy statement. Thus there was close interactions between the international and internal US national dynamics.

The international dynamics were not only governed by the norms of the Arctic Council but rather the global climate politics in the UNFCCC took precedence. More than one state actor appears to have played a role in this. Initially, some of the Nordic countries sent climate negotiators to the Policy Drafting Team. Later, the United States pushed the process to a higher policy level emphasizing that the Arctic Council was not the right forum for climate policy.220 However, there was a limit to the global influence on the Arctic agenda - it was not allowed to kill the consensus-oriented Arctic regime and norms on dialogue that give a voice not only to states but also to the indigenous peoples independently of the states they live in.221 This in combination with the dynamics between the Permanent Participants and media sets an important context for why there was a policy document, in spite of conflicts over its form and content. The conflicting interests that had to be balanced are articulated by the weak commitments and the placing of responsibilities with the member states rather than with the Arctic Council. Several people have said that the Arctic Council was at stake, but with different in

219 Interviews 59 and 61.

220 Interviews 24, 59, 61, and 71; US Statement on Policy Document, distributed at the Policy Drafting Group Meeting in London October 2003, with copies distributed at the Assessment Integrations Team meeting October, 14, 2003.

221 Interviews 63 and 71.

terpretation of what that actually entailed. Representatives of the Permanent Participants emphasize the unique collaboration of states and peoples in the region. The chair of the negotiations perceived that to the United States it was also important to make sure that the Arctic Council remained a high-level discussion forum rather than a regime with legal status and forum for negotiating policy.222

The dynamics involving the Permanent Participants could be compared to a dual governance structure at the international level. Such dual governance has previously been discussed as part of the development of greater autonomy for the Arctic indigenous peoples within national borders as exemplified by indigenous political arrangements, such as tribal governments, that operate simultaneously with public governments in the same geographical area.223 In the Arctic, as an international arena, the indigenous peoples' international organizations have become trans-national actors that take on similar roles as states.224 The ACIA policy process illustrates that their status, as equal partners to states, is constantly on the line and the picture that emerges from this study is thus somewhat different from previous descriptions of this cooperation as "de facto equality" for the Permanent Participants.225 It appears that in a case where global politics are at play, it matters that indigenous peoples' organizations do not have the same formal status as the member states in the Arctic Council. At the same time, dual governance creates opportunities that may not be available to a member state. First, the indigenous peoples' organizations did not feel bound by the same norms of diplomacy and thus were free to publicly reveal the dynamics of closed negotiations. Second, they could exploit national political venues to compensate for their lack of influence in the international setting thereby increasing the pressures in the negotiations. Moreover, in the international setting they could collaborate with parties whom they would not have been normally able to exploit within the internal US policy dynamics.

What can be learned from the ACIA about the potential for regional international climate policy processes? The most important lesson is that any regional climate policy discussion is likely to be colored by the global climate policy dynamics. How that is moderated is likely to depend on the regimes within which the negotiations taking place, including both the norms for cooperation and which actors take part in the process. Based on the Arctic experience, there are clear limits to the prospect of using regional areas to overcome deep differences of opinion at the global level. It also shows how international climate politics are linked to national political dynamics, in this case within the United States. Such cross-level policy dynamics are discussed further in Chapter 7 (section 7.2) of this dissertation.

222 Interview Gunnar Pálsson, January 17, 2005.

223 Else Grete Broderstad and Jens Dahl, "Political Systems," in Arctic Human Development Report, ed. AHDR, 85-100 (Akureyri: Stefansson Arctic Institute, 2004).

224 Heininen, "Circumpolar International Relations and Geopolitics."

225 E.g. Young and Einarsson, "Introduction," 20.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

Always wanted to get a better deal but didn't have the needed negotiation skills? Here are some of the best negotiation theories. The ability to negotiate is a skill which everyone should have. With the ability to negotiate you can take charge of your life, your finances and your destiny. If you feel that others are simply born with the skill to negotiate, you should know that everyone can learn this wonderful skill.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment