Keeping the Arctic ‘Cold’: The Rise of Plurilateral Diplomacy?



At a time when the Arctic region faces significant climatic transformations, a triple governance gap threatens to fuel major diplomatic tensions among regional actors over natural resources, navigation rights and fishery management. This article argues that a plurilateral diplomatic approach could help close these gaps by establishing an effective ‘web of contracts’ involving institutional networks defined around the Arctic Council as the central node of Arctic governance and NATO, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) / the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as supporting agencies. In so doing, the article makes a twofold contribution to the literature on global governance. It explains how governance gaps could be closed in a manner that does not require extensive institutional frameworks or rigid legal mandates, and it highlights the role of institutional networks in sustaining regional and global governance.