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Emerging UK Arctic policy



    1. Currently working on a PhD project on emerging UK Arctic policy at Royal Holloway, University of London, which is jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)
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  • The author would like to thank the anonymous reviewer and Professor Klaus Dodds for their valuable feedback on earlier drafts of this article. The author would also like to acknowledge the support received for this research from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Royal United Services Institute.


How is the United Kingdom engaging with changing geopolitics of the Arctic in the twenty-first century? This article considers the UK's contemporary interest(s) in the Arctic at a time of unprecedented change in the northern latitudes of our planet. In particular, it focuses on the ongoing emergence of UK Arctic policy as an assemblage of processes involving various actors—government officials, scientists and other academics, environmental campaigners, journalists and the private sector—which not only define UK interests but also delimit what the term ‘Arctic’ means to, and demands of, the UK. The focus of the article is directed at the recent activities by the Ministry of Defence, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee and the related work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to develop an Arctic Policy Framework, drawing on official government documents and a series of interviews conducted between 2010 and 2013 for evidence. The article concludes with the author's thoughts on tensions and contradictions that remain in the UK's policy towards the Arctic and the implications this might have at a time when global interest in the Arctic is growing rapidly.

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