​Bordeaux Model United Nations, 
March 24th, 2017
Sciences Po Bordeaux
Salle Copernic

The Arctic

What challenges for the Arctic today? 

The Arctic region

The Arctic Council

              The Arctic region is, for most of those who live outside it, largely ignored, since human activity in the area is relatively marginal compared to other parts of the world. However, the Arctic merits more general attention than it has received hitherto.

              The story of the Arctic is a case study of the opportunities and challenges within an increasingly globalized world, with innumerable factors of study, interesting resources, and most of all, coming issues and chances.

             After the demise of the Cold War, the Arctic has been emerging as a scene for increasing scientific, environmental and economic cooperation between governments. It has developed in the last years as an important strategic region, attracting interest from an increasing number of States.

          ​​​​​The Arctic Council, an intergovernmental body established with the 1996 Ottawa Declaration, was created to promote “cooperation, coordination and interaction between the Arctic states, Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.”

The Arctic Council consists of the eight Arctic States: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. Six international organisations representing Arctic Indigenous Peoples have permanent participant status.

Observer status in the Arctic Council is open to:
  • non-arctic states
  • inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary organizations, global and regional
  • non-governmental organizations.

For more detailed information on the workings of the Arctic Council: see here. 

At BOMUN, the Arctic Council will try to reach consensus on UN-style resolutions on different topics including:

  • The militarization of the Arctic

  • Economic challenges

  • How to protect the fragile environmental balance of the region. 

Theme 1
Militarization in the Arctic

   The growing militarization of the Arctic is related to the numerous economic opportunities allowed by the melting of ice. Thus, we cannot understand States’ military activities in the Arctic without taking in account the economic challenges in the region.

The natural resources and the new commercial routes present in the Arctic can lead to intense territorial disputes between Arctic States: Denmark (via Greenland), Canada, United States, Russia and Norway, all those countries have claims over the Arctic regions.
What can we do?
     The prospect of a conflict in the Arctic remains unlikely, as the Arctic Council, provides an integral means for cooperation, coordination, and interaction among Arctic states. States should avoid an increasing militarization of the Arctic and therefore chose to negotiate peacefully their disagreements. As for the militarization of the Arctic, delegates should discuss about:
  • Peaceful settlements of the territorial and maritime disputes;
  • Possible demilitarized zones in the Arctic.

Theme 2
Economic challenges in the Arctic

     The rapid melting of the ice in the Arctic region represents new economic opportunities for States. In fact, the Arctic has been identified as a new region for potential economic and commercial development. Thus, the long-isolated region is becoming a ​​​more accessible zone for commercial fishing, fresh water, minerals, coal, iron, copper, oil, gas, and shipping.
What can delegates do?​
     It is clear that there are important economic stakes in the Arctic region and that it represents an opportunity to develop economic activities for many countries. But, the economic challenges of the Arctic are coupled with environmental and biological challenges and it is known today the importance that the Arctic region has on the planet.

In order to preserve what is left of the Arctic ecosystems, States must think in a long-term solution for their economic activities, trying at the same to avoid future environmental disasters.  

Theme 3
A fragile environmental balance

       The evidence of global warming is in no place more obvious than in the Arctic region. The Arctic has warmed rapidly during the last four decades. The magnitude of temperature increase in the Arctic is twice as large as the global increase. ​​The effect of Arctic climate change will have profound local, regional and global implications.

 Vulnerable ecosystems in the Arctic are under threat. Climate change causes rapidly changing living conditions for 4 million Arctic inhabitants. Hunting, fishing and herding activities are threatened by changes in snow and ice conditions. Traditional livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic are at risk.

The accelerating loss of ice from the Greenland ice sheet contributes to global sea level rise. Recent models project a rise of global sea level of as much as one meter by the end of this century. A rise of that magnitude will have severe consequences for our planet.

Combating climate change is an urgent common challenge for the international community and requires immediate global action.

Source: arctic-council.org

To get more information on the Arctic region, you can visit the following websites :

  • arctic-council.org (official website of the Arctic Council)

  • "The militarization of the Arctic: Political, Economic and Climate Challenges", UFRGS Model United Nations Journal, vol. 1 (2013), pp. 11-70. Available at: https://www.ufrgs.br/ufrgsmun/2013/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/The-Militarization-of-the-Arctic-Political-Economic-and-Climate-Changes.pdf

Press articles on the topic:
  • https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/22/ice-melting-temperatures-forecast-for-arctic-midwinter
  • http://thediplomat.com/2013/10/the-creeping-militarization-of-the-arctic/
  • https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/03/the-arctic-where-the-us-and-russia-could-square-off-next/359543/
  • http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/24/u-s-assumes-arctic-council-leadership-amid-increasing-tension-in-the-far-north/
  • ​http://www.russia-direct.org/analysis/can-un-law-sea-stop-militarization-arctic