In 1991, eight countries signed the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy: Canada, the United States, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland. This was the first step in the formation of the Arctic Council, which was formally established in 1996 to act as a high-level intergovernmental body to address social, political, and environmental issues in the Arctic. Indigenous peoples, who form a significant population in seven of the eight countries’ Arctic regions, are involved in the council as permanent participants if they represent a single indigenous people across borders. John English explores the history and increasingly important role of the council as the Far North assumes a more important place in international politics.
The Canadian embrace of co-operative multilateralism in the 90s and the jealous protection of sovereignty in 2010 reveal a difference in approach, interest, and values. Both approaches had antecedents in Canada’s past—there have been Liberal unilateralism and nationalist rhetoric, too—but there are fundamental differences between Canadian policies in the 1990s and those adopted in the following decade. This book, part of The History of Canada series, explores the origins, creation, and development of the Arctic Council as a means of understanding those differences.