Alternatives for an Arctic Treaty – Evaluation and a New Proposal


  • Timo Koivurova is Research Professor and Director of the Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law (NIEM), Arctic Centre, University of Lapland. The author would like to acknowledge research assistance from NIEM researcher S.G. Sreejith. This article is part of a research project entitled ‘The Capability of International Governance Systems in the Arctic to Contribute to the Mitigation of Climate Change and Adjust to its Consequences (CIGSAC)’ and is funded by the Academy of Finland (Project No. 8110564). The author has taken part in various processes aimed at fostering discussion on the possibility of concluding an Arctic treaty, including those organized under the auspices of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and now within the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law's Arctic taskforce and the UNEP Grid Arendal seminar on Multilateral Environmental Agreements and their Relevance in the Arctic. The author wishes to express his gratitude to Professors Nigel Bankes, Kees Bastmeijer and David VanderZwaag for their useful comments.

    The author is responsible for the views expressed in the article and any errors or omissions are his own.


This article examines the alternative proposals for an Arctic treaty that have been put forward by scholars and international organizations. The numerous proposals on record draw their inspiration from various sources: chief among these is the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), but maritime regimes and even principles such as the common heritage of humankind are represented as well. The goal of the article is to examine the proposals in depth to ascertain what is viable and what is problematic in each. This analysis will help in outlining a new treaty that can accommodate both the political realities in the Arctic and the societal goals pursued in the region.