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Arctic Sovereignty Disputes: International Relations Theory in the High North
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA
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As an emerging geopolitical hotspot, will the future of the Arctic be dominated by conflict or cooperation among states With the potential for vast natural resources and the promise of transpolar shipping, the opening Arctic may be the new frontier for global competition. This thesis uses two theories of international relations, neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism, to evaluate the geopolitical landscape of an opening Arctic. This thesis argues that the characterization of the Arctic as a zone of either competition or cooperation is overly simplistic. While structural neorealist theory can accurately account for some of the Arctic countries behavior, it is unable to explain forms of cooperation existing and emerging among them. In addition to laying out the overall state of cooperation and conflict among the Arctic countries, this thesis also examines two cases in detail conflicts between Russia and Norway over the Barents Sea, and the United States and Canada over the Northwest Passage. Neorealism fails to account fully for the emergence of cooperation in the form of an equitable treaty on the maritime delimitation line between Russian and Norway. The international regimes were enablers of inter-state cooperation in the U.S.-Canadian case, and were a contributing factor in dispute settlement.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE