The field of Arctic studies is becoming increasingly rich in empirical material across
a broad array of topics and relationships, encompassing multiple international
actors, both littoral and extra-regional. This article reviews three recent books on
the Arctic, focusing on the evaluation of the potential for conflict in the region.
Climate change will have long-ranging repercussions in the Arctic, where complex
situations and choices will loom large, creating scope for international tensions.
The scholarship demonstrates that there is much ‘old’ in the ‘new’ narratives of
the North but at the same time posits that the region has been significantly less
confrontational in the post-Cold War era than many observers predicted. Yet the
Arctic is not hermetically sealed from other regions: international developments
as well as the foreign policy ambitions of individual states, sometimes as remote
as China, have been affecting emerging governance arrangements. In combination,
the ‘spill-over effect’ of international crises and efforts by individual states to
engage in sovereignty-enhancing exercises risk reducing cooperation among the
states which have until now managed to maintain stability in the region.