285 pp. ISBN 13: 978-1-84407-549-2, ISBN 13: 978-1-315-88538-4 (e-book).
Peace Research Institute Oslo
High-level political attention in the Euro-Atlantic and, increasingly, in the Asia-Pacific regions is shifting towards the Arctic. There is an obvious need for new thinking about security in this unique part of the world, which constitutes a part of common heritage and a focus of intensely nationalistic ambitions. A network of researchers committed to developing such thinking was formed in the early 2000s, and this neat volume presents their analysis of the ‘new security environment’ that is emerging in the Arctic. In some ways they appear to be stuck in the conceptual framework of the ’Copenhagen school’, which keeps elaborating the increasingly esoteric notions of ’discursive power’ and ’securitizing acts’. There is, nevertheless, much convincing power in the idea (spelled out by Gjørv in Chapter 4) that the concept of ‘human security’, with all its shortcomings stemming from the proposition for engaging in ‘virtuous imperialism’ aimed at addressing the insecurities in the ‘ global South’, is applicable in the Arctic, where many communities feel threatened by the dynamics of changes. This idea works well in several important research avenues, for instance in substantiating the notion of ‘health security’ or in enriching the theme with perspectives focused on the risks to indigenous communities and on the political exclusion of women. It works less well in connecting these perspectives with the still important traditional security analysis, and the presentation by Canadian ambassador Serafini (moderately bold back in 2004), which makes a Foreword to this book, illuminates this disconnect rather than attempting to bridge it.