New Report: Security in Canada’s North Looking Beyond Arctic Sovereignty

23 11 2010
This report examines three dimensions of security in the North—Arctic security, Northern security, and community security—in order to provide a more comprehensive picture of the security challenges in Canada’s North.
The Conference Board of Canada, 44 pages, November 2010
Report by Bjorn Rutten
Document Highlights:

There is a lack of knowledge about the threats and vulnerabilities within the various regions of the North, particularly in light of the increase in economic activity. We need to know more about the threats and vulnerabilities associated with the medium- and long-term consequences of climate change, industrial accidents and other man-made disasters on land and at sea, organized crime, terrorism, infectious disease outbreaks, and natural disasters.

Security in Canada’s North: Looking Beyond Arctic Sovereignty examines three dimensions of security in the North—Arctic security, Northern security, and community security—in order to provide a more comprehensive picture of the security challenges in Canada’s North. The report argues that of the three principal concepts, community security is the relevant for Northerners, who see the community—rather than the individual, state, or the nation—as the most vital referent object of security.

The Centre for the North’s (CFN) portal provides access to reports, news and information. It also facilitates networking among registered users and offers up-to-date information on CFN’s research and projects.


Canada May Arm Coast Guard Icebreakers

23 10 2010

The Conservative government has revealed that it will consider arming the Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreakers as a way to bolster Arctic sovereignty.

The government has also indicated that it will review new shipping regulations in the Northwest Passage and other Arctic waters with an eye to extending mandatory registration of foreign vessels — which currently applies only to large freighters and other heavy ships — to all foreign-ship traffic in the region, regardless of size.

The proposals are part of the government’s response, tabled in Parliamant this week, to a report from the Senate fisheries committee about strengthening Canada’s presence in the North.

“My reaction is very positive,” said Senator Bill Rompkey, the Liberal chairman of the committee that issued the December report titled “Controlling Canada’s Arctic Waters: Role of the Canadian Coast Guard.”

“We need to know what vessels of all kinds are doing up there,” said Mr. Rompkey, citing terrorism, drug-smuggling and illegal immigration as potential sources of trouble in a less-frozen Far North.

The Senate committee had urged the government to equip icebreakers “with deck weaponry capable of giving firm notice, if necessary, to unauthorized foreign vessels” in Canada’s northern waters.

The government responded that it “partially supports” the recommendation and that it will “review the Canadian Coast Guard enforcement role, including the possibility of arming CCG icebreakers.”

Two of Canada’s leading experts on Arctic geopolitics also applauded the government for agreeing to study the idea of arming the country’s icebreakers.

“It makes total sense to have the capability for greater enforcement if it becomes necessary,” said University of Calgary political scientist Rob Huebert.

And Michael Byers, a University of British Columbia international law expert, said the “quiet authority of a deck-mounted gun” is a reasonable show of force in the Arctic, and does not constitute a provocation to foreign countries or “preparing for war with the Russians.”


Report: A Uniform Policy to Regulate Shipping in the Arctic Region

6 10 2010

Sovereign states, international governmental organizations and the maritime industry should help prepare a uniform policy to regulate shipping in the Arctic region and engage with native populations while doing so, according to a report released by the University of Alaska Fairbanks in collaboration with Dartmouth and the University of the Arctic’s Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy last month.

The report, “Considering a Roadmap Forward: The Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment,” called for a “Polar Code” that would present guidelines to protect the Arctic region from the adverse ecological, social and economic impacts of increased shipping and commercial marine activity. The threats to the Arctic have grown recently because receding ice cover is opening up access to mineral resources in the area, jeopardizing the region’s ecosystem and native populations, according to Kenneth Yalowitz, the director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding. Yalowitz is the co-chairman of the IACP.

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