Past events at the Institute of International Affairs (IIA), University of Iceland – Autumn 2014

IIA Iceland

Second Trans Arctic Agenda high-level seminar
October 28-29 2014

The Centre for Arctic Policy Studies at the University of Iceland (CAPS) hosted a high-level seminar on Arctic issues on October 28-29 2014 in Reykjavík. This is the second year that the Trans Arctic Agenda seminar is held in Reykjavík. The Centre for Arctic Policy Studies was launched at ticlhis seminar in 2013. It is run under the auspices of the Institute of International Affairs at the University of Iceland. This year the Trans Arctic Agenda conference focused on the governance and management of the Arctic region following the Arctic Council meeting in Kiruna of 2013.

H.E. Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the President of Iceland, and Kristín Ingólfsdóttir, the Rector of the University of Iceland, opened the conference.

The background to the conference lies in the rapid changes that climate change and increased international attention is bringing to the circumpolar region. These changes offer new opportunities for resource exploitation, human settlement and travel, but will also disrupt the present natural conditions and living environment for all concerned in the High North. Prudent, cooperative and sustainable handling of the challenges involved will be crucial for gleaning as much as possible from the positive effects of change while minimizing the potential damage.

This year the seminar focused on the following six themes:

1)   Arctic and Foreign Policies of the Arctic States

All the eight member states of the Arctic Council have published their Arctic policies, some even their revised policies. Even though all the policies promote circumpolar cooperation, and there is every reason to be optimistic in those terms, the eight states are a diverse group. They differ in terms of size, population, perception and capacity, their status in the region and foreign policies. This panel will discuss foreign- and Arctic policies of the eight Arctic states, looking to answer questions such as what are the main priorities in the foreign policies of the states? Is the Arctic a real priority? How are Arctic matters handled within each state and what actors influence the policy? How do domestic politics influence the foreign and Arctic policies?

Among speakers were:  Asle Toje, Research Director, The Nobel Institute; Michael T. Corgan, Associate Professor of International Relations, Boston University and CAPS Visiting Scholar;  Joël Plouffe,  Researcher Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and Managing Editor Arctic Yearbook; Lassi Heininen, Professor, Univeristy of Lapland, Editor of Arctic Yearbook;   Jakub M. Godzimirski, Research Professor, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs; Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir, Adjunct Lecturer, University of Iceland; Alexander Hviid, Royal Danish Defence College.

Chair: Alyson JK Bailes, Adjunct Lecturer, Universtiy of Iceland.

2)   Arctic Council observers, the “Near-Arctic” and the High North

The High North is attracting attention from all over the globe and many different actors have expressed their interest in the region and applied for observer ship in the Arctic Council. In the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Kiruna 2013 many applicants were granted such observer ship. A majority of the new observer states are Asian, which are China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore. This panel will focus first and foremost on the new Asian observer states and what their new status entails for them. What roles and responsibilities are there for observer states and how can they best influence decision-making and make sure that their voice is heard?

Among speakers are: Jesse Hastings, Lecturer, National University of Singapore and CAPS Visiting Scholar; Marc Lanteigne, Senior Researcher (Asia) at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and CAPS Visiting Scholar;  Malgorzata Smieszek, Researcher, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland; Philip E. Steinberg, Professor, Durham University, Ingrid A. Medby, Doctoral Researcher, Durham University and Johanne M. Bruun, Doctoral Researcher, Durham University; Adam Stepien, Researcher, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland; Caroline Kennedy, Professor, University of Hull and Admiral Nick Lambert, master mariner and former British National Hydrographer; Johannes Riber Nordby, Analyst, Royal Danish Defence College; Michal Luszczuk, Post-dodtoral fellow, Jan Kochanowski University, Kielce.

Chair: Lassi Heininen, Professor, University of Lapland, Editor of Arctic Yearbook

3)   The West Nordic region

West Nordic cooperation has taken significant steps in the past few years, with the West Nordic Council establishing itself as a significant platform for West Nordic political cooperation, as well as building on more traditional cultural ties and mutual economic interests. This panel will focus on the challenges and opportunities the West Nordic region faces in the coming years such as the Arctic’s rising geo-economic and strategic importance and challenges due to climate change. Will West Nordic cooperation be successful in shaping the Arctic’s future? What constitutes the “region” and is there such a thing as West Nordic identity? Will there be a joint West Nordic Arctic strategy? Can the small West Nordic nations increase their influence on the Arctic developments through enhanced cooperation and how will it influence wider Nordic cooperation, the Arctic Council and other fora? 

Among speakers are: Maria Ackrén, Associate Professor, University of Greenland;  Rasmus Gjeldssø Bertelsen, Assistant Professor, Aalborg University; Egill Þór Níelsson, Visiting Scholar, Polar Research Institute of China; Beinta í Jakubsstovu, University of the Faroe Islands.

Chair: Auður H Ingólfsdóttir, Assistant Professor, Bifröst University.

4)  Polar Code and Law of the Sea

The panel will address a few contemporary issues concerning the international law of the sea that is of relevance for the Arctic such as navigation, maritime boundary delimitations, the extended continental shelf and fisheries. One of the issues that will be dealt with is the Polar Code which the IMO has been developing. It is a draft mandatory International Code of safety for ships operating in polar waters, to cover the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles. Another issue that will be addressed is Canada’s submission of preliminary information to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf concerning the outer limits of the continental shelf of Canada in the Arctic Ocean.

Among speakers are Coalter G. Lathrop, Lecturing Fellow, Duke Universtiy;  Erik Røsæg, Professor, University of Oslo; Bjarni Már Magnússon, Assistant Professor,  University of Reykjavik.

Chair: Helgi Áss Grétarsson, Associate Professor, University of Iceland. 

5)  The balance between business developments and environmental protection in the Arctic

The Arctic is already highly globalized and influences by market forces and geopolitics have become apparent. Different actors, state, non-state and corporate have declared interest in the region or even invested in some sort of business developments. While no one owns the Arctic, it is necessary to make sure that it is governed and managed in a responsible sustainable manner, with balance between business adventures and nature preservation. This panel looks at the interplay between different actors promoting different, and sometimes not compatible, interests. Furthermore, it seeks to answer such questions as who is responsible if something goes wrong, how will the responsibility be divided between private and public actors and how can those with indirect interests voice their concerns to make sure their interests are taken account off?

Among speakers are: Georg Lárusson, Director General of the Icelandic Coastguard; Amy L. Lovecraft, Associate Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Stephen Macko, Professor, University of Virginia.

Chair: Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir, Professor, University of Iceland.

6)  North American leadership in the Arctic Council

This panel focuses on the North American leadership in the Arctic Council. First of all it looks at Canada’s leadership, that is coming to its end and secondly it discusses what to expect from the US leadership, starting in 2015. The Canadian and US priorities will be explored as well as their Arctic awareness. The aim is to shed light on issues such as differences in leadership style, Arctic identity and approaches to intergovernmental cooperation and policy priorities.

Among speakers: Steven Lamy, Professor of International Relations, USC University of Southern California, Heather Exner-Pirot, stragetist, Universty of Saskatchewan and Managing Editor Arctic Yearbook; Michael Byers, Professor, University of British Columbia; Harry Bader, Associate Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Chair: Anna Karlsdóttir, Assistant Professor, University of Iceland.

The programme for the seminar can be accessed here.

Seminar on the case of Catalonia
20 October 2014

The Centre for Small State Studies (CSSS), which is run under the auspices of the Institute of International Affairs, hosted an open seminar titled “New Emerging Small States in Europe? The Case of Catalonia” oniceland October 20. The seminar was hosted in cooperation with the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT), which is a public-private partnership designed to foster dialogue and build relationships between the citizens of Catalonia and the rest of the world. The seminar was live-streamed via the CSSS website. More information concerning the seminar can be found here.