Arctic sovereignty & security: Conflict, cooperation or something else?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sarah Hertz, Marketing Administrator, University of Calgary Press

The Arctic is front page news in Canada and around the world. Mixed messages from journalists, academics, and government representatives predict both conflict and cooperation in the region. On the one hand, there is talk of “a new Cold War” brewing, tied to a “race for resources” – with nations scrambling to claim the riches of this newly accessible region, producing military technology specially designed for Arctic operations. On the other hand, many observers believe this to be an era of increased cooperation between nation states, rooted in international law, with a respect for sovereign rights and responsible stewardship.

There is lively debate in Canada about what these developments mean for the future of our Arctic and the circumpolar world more generally. Although Canadians allegedly eschew conflict, competing viewpoints can clarify the issue and stimulate discussion. The two speakers in this debate, Dr. Whitney Lackenbauer and Dr. Rob Huebert, differ significantly in their assessments of Arctic sovereignty. Their research question: how might Canada position itself as a leader in the circumpolar world, and what does this mean for the future of the Arctic?

At Congress on May 30, Huebert and Lackenbauer will present their positions on Arctic sovereignty. Huebert will attempt to convince Lackenbauer that new geopolitical forces increase the probability of conflict between arctic and near-arctic states; Lackenbauer will insist that these ‘geopolitical forces’ are fabricated by political leaders, with an aim to please domestic audiences. Come and decide who is right!

Whitney Lackenbauer is a professor of the department of history at St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and is Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group. Check out his latest book with University of Calgary Press.

Rob Huebert is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Calgary and senior research fellow at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies. Check out his latest book with University of Calgary Press.

Both books are part of the Press’ Northern Lights series, co-published with the Arctic Institute of North America.



Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2016