Contemporary Arctic Meets World Politics: Rethinking Arctic Exceptionalism in the Age of Uncertainty



During the last decade, the Arctic has generally become to be understood as an exceptional “zone of peace” and a “territory of dialogue”. The region has been seen as relatively encapsulated from global power politics, characterized primarily as an apolitical space of regional governance, functional co-operation, and peaceful co-existence. However, as the contemporary Arctic is increasingly global, it is potentially not that different from any other region in terms of being increasingly subject to various geoeconomic and politico-strategic dynamics. This has been recently highlighted by various spill-over effects of world politics into the region, such as the conflict in Ukraine or the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. The changed foreign policy behavior of Russia, and changes in US domestic and foreign policy, increase general uncertainty also in the Arctic. At the same time, exceptionalism has shown continuing resilience as Arctic actors have actively tried to maintain regional co-operation in a difficult international environment.


Apolitical Space Paris Climate Agreement Arctic Council (AC) United Nations Convention On The Law Of The Sea (UNCLOS) Arctic States 
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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Finnish Institute of International AffairsHelsinkiFinland

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