Polar Law, “Law-making,” and the Arctic Council

Dr Natalia Loukacheva1

1UNBC, Prince George, Canada

The Arctic Council is a high-level international forum. By its legal structure, it does not have legal personality of an international organization under international law that would enable it to develop legislation or conclude treaties with other subjects of international law. Nevertheless, since its inception in 1996, the Council has been contributing to the development of international law as it relates to the Arctic. Thus, the Council has been engaged in the development of “soft-law” documents and negotiations of the three legally binding agreements that were concluded by the eight Arctic states under the auspices of the Council in 2011, 2013 and 2017 respectively. This presentation shall explore how “law-making” activities of the Arctic Council apply to the principles of Polar law. Further, it shall look at how existing agreements, concluded under the aegis of the Council, have influenced the nature and evolution of this forum and whether there is space for further “law-making.”


Natalia Loukacheva Ph.D., S.J.D. is Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Governance and Law and Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Northern British Columbia. Dr. Loukacheva specializes in legal issues in the Arctic since 1996.  She is the author of The Arctic Promise: Legal and Political Autonomy of Greenland and Nunavut, (University of Toronto Press, 2007); the editor and project leader of the first ever Polar Law Textbook, (the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM), TemaNord 538:2010); of the Polar Law Textbook II, (NCM, TemaNord 535:2013) and of the Polar Law and Resources book (NCM, TemaNord 533:2015).

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