The Ilulissat Declaration of 2008 was a pre-emptive desecuritization act in reaction to the growing concern for military conflict in the wake of the 2007 Russian flag planting. Photo: Bent Petersen
In a rapidly changing Arctic, there is a need to engage in a comprehensive investigation into what Arctic security means in the 21st century. Together with the Danish journal POLITIK, The Arctic Institute has, thus, published a Special Issue, which aims to widen the debate on Arctic security relations through a more comprehensive dialogue inclusive of the many different types of security, their interactions, and their challenges.
Each chapter provides one layer of the multimodal lens of Arctic security that, together, weave a complex web of change. This Special Issue therefore continues to move the discourse of polar security beyond – but not excluding – the conventional debates of military capabilities and state sovereignty towards a more comprehensive definition of security, including its interacting environmental, economic, political, health and cultural dimensions.
Co-author Jeppe Strandsbjerg is Associate Professor at the Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School.
Desecuritization as Displacement of Controversy: geopolitics, law and sovereign rights in the Arctic
By signing the Ilulissat Declaration of May 2008, the five littoral states of the Arctic Ocean pre-emptively desecuritized potential geopolitical controversies in the Arctic Ocean by confirming that international law and geo-science are the defining factors underlying the future delimitation. This happened in response to a rising securitization discourse fueled by commentators and the media in the wake of the 2007 Russian flag planting on the geographical North Pole seabed, which also triggered harder interstate rhetoric and dramatic headlines. This case, however, challenges some established conventions within securitization theory. It was state elites that initiated desecuritization and they did so by shifting issues in danger of being securitized from security to other techniques of government. Contrary to the democratic ethos of the theory, these shifts do not necessarily represent more democratic procedures. Instead, each of these techniques are populated by their own experts and technocrats operating according to logics of right (law) and accuracy (science). While shifting techniques of government might diminish the danger of securitized relations between states, the shift generates a displacement of controversy. Within international law we have seen controversy over its ontological foundations and within science we have seen controversy over standards of science. Each of these are amplified and take a particularly political significance when an issue is securitized via relocation to another technique. While the Ilulissat Declaration has been successful in minimizing the horizontal conflict potential between states it has simultaneously given way for vertical disputes between the signatory states on the one hand and the Indigenous peoples of the Arctic on the other.
- Introduction: Arctic International Relations in a Widened Security Perspective
- Chapter 2: Soft Securitization: Unconventional Security Issues and the Arctic Council
- Chapter 3: Regional Order in the Arctic: Negotiated Exceptionalism
- Chapter 4: Arctic Indigenous Societal Security at COP21: The Divergence of Security Discourse and Instruments in Climate Negotiations
- Chapter 5: Post-colonial governance through securitization? A narratological analysis of a securitization controversy in contemporary Danish and Greenlandic uranium policy
- Chapter 6: What Kind of Nation State will Greenland be? Securitization Theory as a Strategy for Analyzing Identity Politics
- Afterword: The Arctic Security Constellation