ISSUE BRIEF

The Arctic as a Global Common

September 2, 2011

The Arctic deserves to be treated as a global common and a common heritage of mankind. The current discourse on the Arctic is dominated by the Arctic Five countries and the Arctic Council. This is clearly insufficient. Theses countries are moreover militarising the Arctic in pursuit of their narrow national interests. Their focus is limited to issues such as claiming Exclusive Economic Zones so that resources can be exploited, rights and resources for sea passage and the like. Protecting the ecology is low in their priority. Their business as usual attitude towards global warming combined with the prospects of the pollution of the Arctic due to increased shipping is likely to further degrade the ecology of the region. Instead of leaving the issue of the Arctic's future to the developed countries, developing countries like India must begin to play an active role, as they are doing in negotiations over space and climate change. It is time that a policy on this issue is debated and evolved in India. The first step in this regard will be for India to become an ad hoc observer to the Arctic Council. At the same time, India's 'strategic community' needs to take the lead in articulating the debating the idea of including the Arctic in the discourse on global commons.

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