chapter  6
19 Pages

Non-governmental cooperation: the rise and significance of transnational solidarity amongst the indigenous peoples and scientists of the Arctic

Contrary to appearance and the assumptions of most observers, this statement was not a declaration of Inuit national autonomy and, in fact, reveals a nuanced, contemporary attitude to sovereignty as a multi-faceted and evolving concept. As discussed in Chapter 4, in relation to indigenous peoples’ land rights vis-à-vis their sovereign overlords, the declaration is not a call by the Inuit to replace that sovereignty with their own equivalent rule but an appeal to redefine the concept in a way that would, ultimately, serve the interests of both sides. Equally, in an international context, the Declaration is not a proclamation of independence so much as an appeal for the recognition of the reality of interdependence in the Arctic. It is more the pragmatic expression of diverse peoples thrown together by circumstances and common interests than a romanticized assertion of the cultural bonds that conventionally underpin national self-determination movements. It is not, as with most nationalist movements, an appeal by the Inuit to join the Westphalian system so much as an appeal by the Inuit to the Westphalian system to join them by evolving and adapting to a form more appropriate to a globalizing world. The sovereign states are asked not to step aside but to work alongside the Inuit as ‘partners in the conduct of International Relations in the Arctic’ (ICC 2009). Whilst the Arctic states have been asserting their sovereign claims

over the region, bringing more conventional-and some unconventionalintergovernmental politics to a region previously often marginalized from the Westphalian system, non-governmental politics has not been overridden. As already discussed in previous chapters, the new diplomacy of the Arctic states is influenced by the discourses of the region’s indigenous peoples and also of the global environmental interaction promoted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and global civil society actors. This chapter analyses the impact of transnational politics in the Arctic outside of, but nonetheless still related to, the more formal intergovernmental relations discussed in the previous chapter. The cross-border interactions and subsequent global political influence of two particular transnational communities are examined: the region’s indigenous peoples; and scientists in the region who serve the international community rather than their own governments.

Transnational politics refers to the realm of International Relations (IR) that exists outside of formal intergovernmental diplomacy. The

term emerged from the 1970s through the contention of Liberal/Pluralist IR scholars that understanding government foreign policy-making, diplomatic exchanges and interaction in intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) was not enough to appreciate properly the politics of a globalizing world (Keohane and Nye 1971). The rise of cross-border interactions between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) outside of direct governmental control-including pressure groups, multinational corporations (MNCs), armed insurgencies and scientists serving the international community-for many necessitated seeing the political world as more than the conventional map image of nearly 200 competing sovereign units.