“Arctic Council needs more regional participation”
According to the doctoral thesis by Waliul Hasanat, the local and regional governments should be more integrated into the work of the Arctic Council. Furthermore, it will be essential to find synergies between all northern cooperation forms.
Waliul Hasanat investigates northern innovative forms of international cooperation from the international legal perspective. His study focuses on Arctic Council and whether it has been beneficial for encountering the region’s challenges.
According to Waliul Hasanat, the local and regional governments should be more integrated into the work of the Arctic Council. In that way, the Arctic Council would be able to better conduct its essential task: to promote the cooperation between the Arctic states, indigenous people and other Arctic inhabitans, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
“Currently this is not the case, even if the region’s indigenous organizations are well represented in the Council”, Waliul Hasanat notes.
According to him, the direct and substantial participation by regional governments in the Arctic would enhance the possibility of the local governments to adapt to the climate change consequences in the region.
“Arctic Council is, for example, conducting important climate science, which would trickle down much more efficiently into the policies of regional governments if only their participation would be more direct in the Council.”
Furthermore, it will be essential to find synergies between all northern cooperation forms. Especially, the work of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Barents Regional Council and the Northern Forum – the latter being the international organization of northern sub-national or regional governments – should be more connected to the work of the Arctic Council.
”Even now, all of them have a common goal in a long-term view, that is, wellbeing of the region. By revalueing the operation of these organizations, the overlaps can be avoided, as well as scarce financial resources could be saved”, Hasanat points out.
Within international law, the term soft law refers to quasi-legal instruments which do not have legally binding force but which try to steer the actions of states and other organizations. The term covers such elements as declarations, statements, principles, codes of conduct, codes of practice, and action plans. The Arctic Council is one example of the results of the soft law instruments: it was established byt the Ottawa Declaration of 1996, not by legally binding international treaty.
”The soft law instruments are often used by states to test whether they are willing to move toward more demanding reulatory efforts. As a weak side, the cooperation may stay on that level when legally binding international treaties are not made. That is why it is crucial to keep studying the soft law cooperation from the viewpoint whether it is performed on the basis of good governance criteria, such as transparency and accountability”, Waliul Hasanat emphasizes.
The Arctic Council consists of the eight member states Sweden, Norway, Russia, Finland, Iceland, USA, Canada and Denmark. Both the EU and China are among the players that now are knocking on the door and want observer status to the Council.