How is Antarctica governed

Arctic space

Christoph Humrich

To person

Dr. rer. pol., born 1973; currently representing the professorship for political theory at the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies at the University of Bremen; Employee of the Hessian Foundation for Peace and Conflict Research (PRIF), Baseler Strasse 27-31, 60329 Frankfurt / M. [email protected]

The melting of the Arctic ice makes the development of resources in the Arctic Ocean technically possible and economically interesting. Are the existing instruments sufficient to regulate conflicts, risks and consequences of use?


In the Arctic, climate change is happening faster than anywhere else in the world. Its effects have become more and more noticeable there in recent years. [1] The melting of the Arctic ice cap makes the development of resources in the Arctic Ocean technically possible and economically interesting. It opens up new shipping lanes in the Northwest and Northeast Passages and expands the fishing grounds to the north. The expected usage conflicts, risks and consequences require appropriate regulation. Therefore, the form and functionality of international governance in the Arctic and the underlying legal institutions and the legal instruments available to it are currently being intensively discussed.

The focus is often either on the Arctic Council, various multilateral conventions or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). These three instruments differ in their scope, their binding character, the principles on which they are based, and the type of governance they favor. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is therefore less important to prefer one at the expense of the other, but to combine them in a complementary way for the most effective and welfare-increasing governance in the Arctic. It is not only important to protect the fragile Arctic environment and the livelihoods and traditions of its inhabitants, especially the Arctic indigenous peoples, but also to ensure that they first and foremost benefit from the use of their habitat and the Arctic resources. Most of the attention paid to the Arctic is due to widespread fear that conflicts in the region could escalate. The first question that arises is whether the cooperation between the Arctic neighbors that is necessary for law and governance can keep the upper hand or whether the Arctic will again become the scene of a Cold War or even a "hot" military conflict.