Global Co-Management and the Emergent Arctic: The Arctic Council’s East Asian Observer States and Indigenous Permanent Participants – Opportunities for Engagement and Collaboration

Dr Barry Zellen1

1United States Coast Guard Academy, Waterville Valley, United States

With its expansion of membership in recent years to include Asian states as Council observers, the Arctic Council (AC) is now truly a global forum for Arctic governance with stakeholders from the global North and South. As the polar ice thaws and new sea lanes emerge, East Asian AC observers are poised to be among the most active users of the Northern Sea Route and Northwest Passage – bringing with them their maritime expertise, industrial capabilities and global economic outlook to the Council. For indigenous permanent participants of the Arctic Council, East Asian participation brings as well the opportunity to directly interface with representatives of industrialized-maritime East Asia. With settled land claims having now transformed the entire North American Arctic, the AC’s expanded membership may help facilitate a new level of economic globalization and integration for the Inuit – from the national to the international level. This paper will look at the emerging relationships between the AC’s indigenous permanent participants and its more recent East Asian observer states, and the institutional learning processes under way among the East Asian observer states as they gain experience navigating the new regulatory and co-management structures of post-land claims Arctic North America.


Barry Scott Zellen joined the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Center for Arctic Study and Policy as its Class of 1965 Arctic Scholar in January 2019. He holds his doctorate from the University of Lapland, his master’s from U.C. Berkeley, and his bachelor’s from Harvard University. Zellen lived and worked in the Western Arctic region for over a decade serving as executive director, general manager and managing editor of several Aboriginal media organizations. He has published over a dozen volumes in Arctic studies, international relations theory, and strategic studies. He will be a 2020 Fulbright Scholar at the University of Akureyri.

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