Political cooperation

The diplomatic activities set in motion by Gorbachev's speech had an eye towards formal political cooperation.171 Several other circumstances favored the formation of a circumpolar regime at this time. Already alluded to was the lessening military tension between East and West, which was probably a prerequisite for any new initiatives. In addition, a number of events made the need for more knowledge about the Arctic environment urgent, including the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986, the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, and the increasing visibility of severe environmental damage from the smelters on the Kola Peninsula.172 At the structural level, cooperation was further made possible by the collapse of the Soviet Union, a growth of transnational contacts among indigenous peoples, as well as devolution of political authority from central to regional governments.173

States were the main actors, especially Finland and Canada.174 Their diplomatic activities culminated in the Declaration on the Protection of the Arctic Environment in 1991, the so-called Rovaniemi Declaration, and the creation of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) as a forum for collaboration around transboundary environmental issues. Scientific networks may have played more of a role in the initiation of the AEPS than is apparent from Young's account of the formation of this regime, but it did not operate as an epistemic community presenting a common solution or perspective to a problem. Rather, it may have provided a networks that included the Soviet Union, which could be used to scout out the potential for political negotiations. A person who took part in the initial discussions has described himself feeling a bit like an "experimental rabbit let out in the manège for the bureaucrats and the foreign minis

168 Young, Creating Regimes: Arctic Accords and International Governance, 34; Archer and Scrivener, "International Co-Operation in the Arctic Environment," 604.

169 IASC 1990. The 1990 Council Meeting Report as quoted in Archer and Scrivener, "International CoOperation in the Arctic Environment," 604.

170 Archer and Scrivener, "International Co-Operation in the Arctic Environment," 604.

171 This process has been described in detail in Young, Creating Regimes: Arctic Accords andInterna-tional Governance.

172 Keskitalo, "Region-Building in the Arctic: Inefficient Institutionalism?" 3.

173 Young, Creating Regimes: Arctic Accords and International Governance, 32.

174 Young, Creating Regimes: Arctic Accords and International Governance; Keskitalo, "RegionBuilding in the Arctic: Inefficient Institutionalism?"; Interview David Stone April 26, 2004.

try people to study to see if it worked."175 The scientific networks and the trial arenas they provided may have been especially important in this politically highly sensitive region. Moreover, as was the case with the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Trans-boundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), science and environment also provided what was perceived as relatively neutral grounds for a collaboration that could further help reduce political tensions.

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