Research Results at PCRC (2015-2020)

◆Highlights of Research Results from AY 2018

Akiho Shibata, Leilei Zou, Nikolas Sellheim, Marzia Scopelliti eds., Emerging Legal Orders in the Arctic: The Role of Non-Arctic Actors, from Routledge, April 2019. This book is based on the outcomes of PCRC 3rd Symposium on "The Role of Non-Arctic States / Actors in the Arctic Legal Order-Making", held in December 2017. The book combines the expertise of academics and practitioners in the fields of international law and Arctic governance, uniquely focusing on Asian actors in the Arctic legal order-making. The resulting study is a fascinating insight into the interplay between non-Arctic actors and the Arctic legal order, and will be invaluable to academics in the field of Arctic and international law.

Osamu Inagaki and Akiho Shibata eds., Towards an International Legal Order for the Arctic, in Japanese, from Toshindo, November 2018. This book is based on the outcomes of PCRC 2nd Symposium on "The Future Design of the Arctic Ocean Legal Order", held in July 2016. The book is organized in 4 Parts, 18 chapters, including contributions from schalrs, both from natural and social science, and practioners in the field of Arctic. This book is the first book in Japanese to examine international legal and policy issues in the Arctic comprehensively.

List of publications in AY 2018

AY 2018 (April 2018 to March 2019)

◆Highlights of Research Results from AY 2017

Sellheim, N., Zou, L., Inagaki, O., "Legal ‘Arctopia’? How Arctic Governance Expresses a Better World," Arctic Yearbook 2017, pp. 415-427. This article tries to verify the emergence of an "Arctopia" by examining the development of the Arctic governance including legally binding instruments under auspices of the Arctic Council, and the Arctic policies in Japan and China. In this article, an "Arctopia" means a good Arctic in contrast to the Arctic of disasters.

Akiho Shibata, "Emerging Prominence in the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation: Implications to Japan's Marine Scientific Research in the Russian Waters" [in Japanese]Ocean Newsletter, Vol.421 (20 February 2018). This short letter finds the significance of the 3rd Agreement under the Arctic Council and its implications to Japan.

List of publications in AY 2017

AY 2017 (April 2017 to March 2018)

◆Highlights of Research Results from AY 2016

Akiho Shibata and Raita Maiko, "An Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation: Only for the Eight Arctic States and Their Scientists?", Yearbook of Polar Law, Vol.8 (2017). This paper makes a critical analysis to the Agreement on Enhancing International Scientific Cooperation in the Arctic, based on the Oslo Draft of February 2015. It finds that non-Arctic States and their scientists, who have substantial interests under international law and the Arctic scientific community, do not benefit from the improved legal environment for Arctic science under the Agreement.

List of publications in AY 2016

AY 2016 (April 2016 to March 2017)

Centre’s Research: An Overview

Polar Cooperation Research Centre (PCRC) seeks to be the leading institution in polar legal and policy studies in Japan, focusing on the Arctic international legal and institutional developments. PCRC is the first of the kind in Japan and, probably, in Asia. ArCS project emphasizes the integration of social science studies with Arctic natural sciences and humanity studies. As a participating agency of the ArCS project, PCRC at Kobe University GSICS will provide evidence-based legal and institutional analysis on the operation of the Arctic Council (AC) and its Working Groups and Task Forces, and on the emerging international legal orders in the Arctic.

The establishment of international and Japanese networks of scholars and experts interested in the Arctic legal and policy studies is the first mandate of the PCRC. PCRC has established a Kobe Arctic Legal Order Studies Forum, a mailing list comprising of about 30 Japanese international law and international relations scholars interested in the Arctic and about 50 international scholars. Through this network, PCRC will provide updates on Arctic legal and policy studies in Japan and in the world. This Forum is open to all those interested in the activities of PCRC. (Photo: At Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland, October 23, 2015)

International collaboration with world’s leading academic institutions and experts in polar legal and policy research and graduate-level education is the second mandate of the PCRC. Director Shibata commenced to establish such collaboration with several institutions in the USA, Iceland, Finland and Norway in 2015, and intends to continue the effort. (Photo: At Polar Law Institute, University of Akureyri, Iceland, October 20, 2015)

PCRC offers to host researchers and doctoral/post-doctoral students interested in polar legal and policy studies as Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) fellows. PCRC also welcomes Ph.D. students interested in doing polar legal studies in Japan entering Kobe University GSICS doctoral course in English. The candidates may want to seek Japanese government (MEXT) scholarship. For details of the JSPS fellowship, please see the JSPS website .

PCRC, as its third mandate, will be convening many international symposia and workshops with guest speakers from abroad and from Japan, in order, first, to sensitize the Japanese academia, policy-makers, business sectors and general public in the Arctic legal and policy developments and, second, to provide its research results that can be used for Arctic stakeholders. The Centre’s kick-off symposium on “Emerging Arctic Legal Orders in Science, Environment and the Ocean” on 18-19 December 2015 provides the main themes and the approach of the PCRC’s study into the Arctic legal and policy issues for the first two years.

PCRC’s Events

December 17-18, 2018

PCRC 4th International Symposium “International Law for Sustainability in Arctic Resource Development: Integrating Economic, Social, Environmental and Scientific Dimensions”

As the year was coming to an end, more than twenty leading scholars and early-career researchers specialized in the field of polar law gathered in Kobe on December 17-18, 2018 for the now annual Polar Cooperation Research Center (PCRC) Symposium co-organized by the PCRC and the Arctic Challenge for Sustainability (ArCS project) with the financial support from JSPS KAKEN-HI, Kobe University Rokkodai Foundation, Center for Social Systems Innovation, and the Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies (GSICS).

For its fourth symposium, the PCRC organizing committee chose to focus on international law for sustainability in Arctic resource development with special regards to the integration of the four dimensions of sustainability: the economy, society, the environment and science. This year’s symposium was special compared to previous PCRC symposia as practitioners from the business sector and natural scientists were also invited to speak during these two days. Throughout the years, the PCRC symposia have also become a Toryu-mon (a gateway for success in Japanese) for early-career scholars from around the world. This is why funding were allocated for early-career researchers to come, present their research and get involved in the discussions during this year’s symposium. With six keynote speakers and six sessions, this fourth symposium aimed once again at fostering high-level academic discussions and to engage both speakers and participants alike to talk about the interplay between sustainability and international law when it comes to non-living natural resources in the Arctic.

On December 17, Akiho Shibata, PCRC Director and Professor of International Law, GSICS, Kobe University, kicked off the symposium in setting the stage with the theoretical framework for the conference. In his opening presentation focused on sustainability as an integrative principle laid down the foundations for the discussions to take place. He argued that there was an abundance of general rules applicable to the Arctic and that the intellectual challenge was to explore the potential of sustainability as an integrative legal principle to establish a holistic and systematic understanding of international law for mineral resource development in the Arctic. Prof. Shibata further discussed the need to identify precisely the current state of international law relevant to Arctic mineral resource development under different perspectives including human and indigenous rights law, international economic and investment law and international environmental law while taking into account the current political and social contexts surrounding the mineral resource developments in the Arctic, the current business and commercial opportunities and viability for projects in the region and the current scientific knowledge relevant to the issue.

Following this opening session, the first keynote speaker, Professor Rachael Lorna Johnstone from the University of Akureyri (Iceland) and the University of Greenland, opened session one on sustainability in resource development and Greenland and talked about the impact international law has on natural resource governance in Greenland. She discussed sovereignty issues and mineral resources extraction in Greenland and she concluded her keynote speech by stating that Greenland is in a unique position in international law. According to her, Greenland is one of the most state-like entities in international law and changes in its position within the Kingdom of Denmark has led to swings in the distribution of competences regarding extractive industries. The evolution of the rights of colonial and indigenous peoples and the strong emphasis on indigenous sovereignty have led to shifts in power over natural resources. Following Rachael’s keynote speech, the first panel speaker was Tukummingiaq Nykjær Olsen, a M.A. student in West Nordic Studies at the University of Greenland (Ilisimatusarfik). Tukummingiaq’s presentation focused on giving both a personal and academic account of the need to include indigenous knowledge in natural resources management. Building on indigenous history, culture and traditions, Ms. Olsen drew attention to the fact that indigenous knowledge needs to be recognized and acknowledged by the academia. In a presentation titled “Changing Natural Environment and its Impact on Human Society in Greenland”, the second panel speaker, Professor Shin Sugiyama from the Institute of Low Temperature Science at Hokkaido University discussed the results of field studies he conducted in Qaanaaq in North Greenland. Prof. Sugiyama described how he and his team have tried to involve local communities in their field studies and the importance of taking their opinions, input and knowledge into account while conducting such field studies. As the Greenland ice sheet is losing more ice by the years and communities in Greenland are affected and remedies must be found. Shin also touched on several ways on sharing data with affected communities. Closing the session, Assistant Professor Minori Takahashi from Hokkaido University touched upon several ways to best enjoy the wealth created by the development of mineral resources and the politics behind sustainability in Greenland.

The symposium reconvened in the afternoon as session two shifted the focus to the human and social dimensions of achieving sustainability. Dr. Peter Hough, associate professor at Middlesex University (UK) delivered a keynote speech on inuit culture and sustainability. The first panel speaker, Dr. Dorothé Cambou, post-doc from Helsinki University presented her research on the limit to permanent sovereignty over natural resources. Using Greenland and its duties towards the rights of indigenous communities regarding extractive entreprises, Dorothée concluded that although the people of Greenland is entitled to self-determination under international law and this is paired with a right for Greenland to exercise sovereign rights over its natural resources, the Inughuit people (North Greenland) also have specific rights as a distinct indigenous community. She further pointed out that the right of subgroups to land and natural resources must be reinforced for social sustainability to be ensured. Finally, Mr. Yu Long, PhD candidate at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China discussed the implementation of Free, Prior and Informed Consent as a contractual commitment and to what extent it is possible to reconcile indigenous interests with those of non-indigenous communities. Comparing Greenland and Canada, Mr. Long argued that FPIC could be embedded in some agreements formalising the negotiations between extractive corporations and indigenous communities and state authorities. He concluded that these agreements could play a more significant role if they were regarded as more than private instruments under contract law.

The first symposium day ended, but speakers and participants were able to carry on their productive discussions in a more casual and relaxed atmosphere during the reception dinner where they could have a taste of kobe beef and delicious Japanese sushi.

The second day of the symposium (December 18) started with session three on achieving sustainability from a business and economic dimension. The first keynote , Mr. Bruce Harland, co-chair of the Responsible Resource Development working group at the Arctic Economic Council and Vice President of Crowley Maritime Corporation made a presentation in which he laid out the role of the Arctic Economic Council in helping economic growth and business development in the Arctic. Following Bruce’s keynote speech, Mr. Daisuke Harada, project director and economist of the Russia Project Group at Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) made the keynote speech of the session in which he focused on the recent acceleration in Arctic oil and gas development in Russia. Discussing the potential of such developments as well as ongoing projects and challenges, he mainly focused on the Yamal LNG and Arctic LNG-2 projects. Mr. Harada offered a well-balanced analysis by assessing the high potential of hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic and the viability of such project developments as well as Japanese interests in the region.

Shifting the focus towards international and economic law, session three’s first panel speaker, Prof. Tomohiko Kobayashi from Otaru University of Commerce talked about the lessons that can be learnt from subsidies rule negotiations at the WTO. According to him, safety of maritime trade is essential for sustainable resource development in the Arctic region. He posited that existing international norms do not address the current needs and government support is imperative to develop technologies to build large scale vessels that can navigate throughout the Arctic oceans. The second panel speaker, Mr. Kong Soon Lim, pupil in chambers at Messrs Dorairaj, Low & Teh, Advocates & Solicitors in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia offered an overview of international investment law in the Arctic and argued for the creation of an Arctic-specific investment regime in order to promote and protect investments in the region by minimising regulatory and political risks whilst observing principles of sustainable development. The last panel speaker, Mr. Egill Thor Nielsson, executive secretary of China-Nordic Arctic Research Centre discussed the relations between China and the Nordic countries especially within the context of non-living natural resource development. Mr. Nielsson argued that sustainability has been put forward as a key factor in relations between the Nordic countries and China and this is further enhanced by building on existing collaborations in various fields such as politics, science and economic development.

Session four explored the two last dimensions of achieving sustainability, namely the environment and science. Dr. Hitomi Kimura, associate professor at Otsuma Women's University gave an overview of the different legal environmental regimes throughout the Arctic as her keynote speech touched upon the role of international environmental law for the Arctic and domestic environmental law in both Greenland and Yamal. The first panel speaker, Dr. Mika Okochi, associate professor et Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology followed suit and talked about the establishment of safety management systems (SMS) to ensure sustainable oil and gas exploitation in the Arctic. Using Yamal as a case study, Dr. Okochi concluded that establishing SMSs and Health, Environment and Safety Management System (HSEMS) was crucial as they would provide up-to-date international safety and environment protection standards for sustainable exploitation by international organisations and companies. Following Dr. Okochi, Ms. Joëlle Klein, junior researcher at the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland, Finland presented a co-research that had been conducted with Mr. Romain Chuffart, PCRC Research Fellow and PhD candidate at the University of Lapland about the legal potential of environment impact assessment (EIA) procedures for achieving sustainability in Arctic natural resource development. Ms. Klein argued that such harmonisation could help establish baseline data, monitor cumulative and long term impacts, clarify the participation of local and indigenous communities as well as incorporate international human rights law. Session four’s last panel speaker, Ms. Daria Shvets, PhD candidate at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain focused on balancing the freedom to lay submarine cables and mining activities in the Arctic through the lens of sustainability. Ms. Shvets’ conclusion was that mining and submarine cables are two essential activities exercised on the continental shelves of Arctic states. According to her, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea gives general overview and does not address cable crossing. Ms. Shvets argued for the creation of specific regional regulations within the framework of the Arctic Council’s Task Force on Telecommunications Infrastructure in the Arctic.

The final session concluded this year’s symposium as keynote speaker Prof. Nigel Bankes from the University of Calgary, Canada and University of Tromsø, Norway integrated all the dimensions of sustainability together with a sharp analysis on how international law puts constraints on states in the development of their natural resources. Finally, Prof. Fujio Onishi completed this final session in focusing on sustainability from the viewpoint of political science and on the complex task of constructing integration at the institutional, legal and academic levels. Prof. Onishi concluded on the potential of sustainability as an integrative legal principle and the need to establish a holistic and systematic understanding of international law for mineral resource development in the Arctic. Prof. Shibata wrapped up the symposium by thanking the speakers and the participants for a productive symposium and by congratulating all staff members, GSICS PhD and MA students for their work and dedication that led to such a successful symposium.

Reported by Romain F.R. Chuffart, PCRC Research Fellow


December 7-9, 2017

PCRC 3rd International Symposium "International Symposium The Role of Non-Arctic States / Actors in the Arctic Legal Order-Making"

On December 7-9, 2017, Polar Cooperation Research Centre (PCRC) hosted its Third International Symposium, where leading international scholars in Polar Law, early career researchers from six different countries and Indigenous representatives have exchanged views on the role of external stakeholders in the Arctic Legal Order-making. Organized with four keynote speeches and six main sessions, the symposium aimed at engaging its participants in a robust discussion on the future of Arctic governance and on how Non-Arctic States and Actors can contribute to the creation of a comprehensive and sustainable Arctic legal order.

Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General Emeritus of the IMO, set the stage for the first session’s discussion about global Arctic shipping governance , with a keynote address on non-Arctic States contributions to the formation and implementation of the Polar Code, entered into force on January 2017. Following Sekimizu, Rasmus Bertelsen, Professor of UiT The Arctic University of Norway and JSPS invited fellow at the PCRC, reflected on the key role that epistemic communities play in building transnational knowledge networks and institutions, highlighting their importance in addressing the complexities of global Arctic shipping governance. Alexander Sergunin, Professor of St. Petersburg State University and the first of four discussants invited for this session, examined potential pathways for Japan-Russia cooperation in the implementation of the Polar Code. He further referred to the legislative changes required at the national level for a smooth operationalization of the International Code. In his presentation, Piotr Graczyk, a PhD research fellow at UiT, discussed Arctic shipping governance from an institutional perspective, identifying potential mechanisms for the interaction and communication between the Arctic Council and IMO. Following Graczyk, Kentaro Nishimoto, Associate Professor of Tohoku University, commented on the role of international law in adaptive global Arctic governance, underlying the structural challenges that the present legal regime on Arctic shipping faces in its interplay with unilateral and regional legal initiatives. Concluding the session with a look from the private sector, Captain Chin Eng Ang, Technical Director of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), assessed the economic viability and sustainability for Singapore’s business operators of complying with the Polar Code’s standards and regulation.

Session two focused on the Central Arctic Ocean Fisheries. Providing a unique record of the most recent legal development concerning regional governance, several Speakers discussed their experience as negotiators in the Five-Plus-Five Process that led to the draft Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean. Erik J. Molenaar, Professor from Utrecht University, examined the Five-plus-Five Process in the context of the evolving international law relating to the sea and the Arctic. Joji Morishita, Professor from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, highlighted the role of non-Arctic States by looking into the transition of the focus in the Five-plus-Five Process. Elena Kienko, PhD student of MGIMO University, presented on the cooperation between the Arctic and non-Arctic States in the conservation and management of Arctic marine living resources. Finally, Geir Honneland, Director of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, rounded out the discussion with a presentation on fisheries management regimes in Western Arctic.

The second day of the Symposium opened with a session on Non-Arctic Influence on Arctic Customary Laws and Institutions. Hosting for the first time representatives of Indigenous communities, Dalee Dorough, Associate Professor at University of Alaska Anchorage, discussed the recognition and respect of Indigenous human rights norms as the basis for a genuine collaboration between Arctic Indigenous Peoples, and Arctic and non-Arctic stakeholders. Aytalina Ivanova and Florian Stammler, Research Docent at North Eastern Federal University and Professor at the University of Lapland respectively, pointed out that Non-Arctic influence in the region is historically rooted in an interest in resources. Referring to both the resettlement projects established throughout the Soviet era and the current influence of extractive companies in the Russian Arctic, the discussants reflected on the concept of reciprocity and the relations between the humans living in the Russian Arctic and newcomers.

Session four built around a co-chaired and truly interdisciplinary panel focused on Policy-Relevant Science within the context of the Arctic, where different members of the ArCS project presented their insight on this topic. Malgorzata Smieszek, a researcher at the Arctic Centre, took on the task of introducing the concept of boundary organizations, setting the theoretical background underpinning the presentations of following discussants. PCRC director Akiho Shibata drew attention on the nexus policy-science and on how science and policy-making cycles interact. Finally, integrated by the contributions of Hajime Kimura, project engineer, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and Naomi Harada, deputy director of RCGC, JAMSTEC, the panel presented the progresses of their case study based on marine research activities and the use of Value Tree Analysis in the context of the Japanese Arctic policy.

The last day of the symposium began with the keynotes speeches of Keiji Ide, Japan’s Ambassador in Charge of Arctic Affairs, and Timo Koivurova, Director of the Arctic Centre, introducing a session on the role of observers in the Arctic Council. Referring to the contribution that Japan can make to Arctic cooperation, Ambassador Ide stressed the need for a close dialogue and coordination among external and internal stakeholders in the Arctic region as a necessary step to promote the formation of a unanimous legal order in the Arctic. Professor Koivurova gave an overview of the evolving governance landscape of the Arctic, particularly looking at how the participation of observers will be organized under the current Finnish Chairmanship. Following two keynote speeches, Sebastian Knecht, a fellow at the Berlin Graduate School for Transnational Studies, assessed the actual contributions of Non-Arctic States to the Arctic Council and its subsidiary bodies, taking AMAP as a case study. Once again providing a much needed institutional perspective, Piotr Graczyk discussed the relevance and application of the rules and procedures developed within the Arctic Council to accommodate new observers. Revisiting the Chinese engagement with the Arctic Council, Yuanyuan Ren, S.J.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin Law School, argued that China could improve its role as an observer by paying closer attention to the work of the AC’s Working Groups and Task Forces and by organizing its delegation to the Council more accurately. The session concluded with the presentation of Marzia Scopelliti, a research fellow at PCRC, who addressed the contradictory case of the European Union as a de facto observer to the Arctic Council, not officially recognized as an observer but actively involved in the Council’s work and proceedings.

The final session of the symposium focused on Asian States/Actors in the Arctic Legal Order-making. Aki Tonami, Associate Professor at the University of Tsukuba, introduced the role of Asian countries and stakeholders in developing an international normative and institutional framework for a stable Arctic, discussing the topic from an International Relations’ theory perspective. Jian Yang, Vice President of Shanghai Institute for International Studies, gave new keys for reading and interpreting the still-in-progress Chinese Arctic policy. The discussion concluded with the presentation of Wonsang Seo, a Principal Research Scientist of the Korea Polar Research Institute, who introduced Korea’s Arctic policy and positions on the Arctic Legal Oder-making, completing a sharp overview of the interests and potential contributions from the Asian States in a fast-changing and complex Arctic governance. Finally, congratulations to all GSICS PhD and Master’s students, who have tirelessly worked for a successful symposium!


July 28-29, 2016

2nd international symposium organized by the PCRC "The Future Design of the Arctic Ocean Legal Order"

Leading experts in Polar Law gathered at Kobe University on Jul 27-28 to discuss the future design of the Arctic Ocean Legal Order. Japan’s Ambassador in Charge of Arctic Affairs, Kazuko Shiraishi, gave the keynote address for the Centre’s second international symposium on Japan’s Arctic Policy and it’s challenges. With the topic of the symposium specifically on the future design of the Arctic Ocean legal order, the perspective from several of the Arctic ocean coastal states were represented including Russia, the US, Norway and Canada. Following Ambassador Shiraishi, JSPS invited fellow to the PCRC, Alexander Sergunin, presented on the Russian approaches to an emerging Arctic Ocean Legal Order. Paul Berkman, Director of the Arctic Futures Initiative (AFI) , discussed the growing global relevance of the Arctic Ocean and the concept of building common interests in the region amidst competing national agendas, and focusing on the need to balance governance with assets. Rounding out the first session on Actors in the Arctic Ocean Legal Order-Making, Fujio Ohnishi, Assistant Professor at the College of International Relations at Nihon University, discussed his perspective on the new US led mode in the Arctic of “compartmentalized multilateralism” which Ohnishi characterized as a more pan-Arctic and inclusive leadership style in the Arctic.

Session two focused on the Forums for the Arctic Ocean Legal Order-Making. Brian Israel, Legal Adviser for the U.S. Department of State, discussed his perspective on both the form and function in the future of Arctic marine cooperation by drawing on his experience as Co-Chair of the Arctic Council’s Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation . Speaking from his experience as the Director-General at the Japanese National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries and his current role as Head of Delegation to the A5+5 Meeting on the High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean, Joji Morishita discussed a topic of great interest to all attendees: the development of new fisheries management in the Arctic high seas. Morishita pointed out a rare development in global fisheries management happening in the Central Arctic Ocean where environmental protection measures and scientific research are preceding the development of commercial fisheries. Following Morishita, Tore Henriksen, a GSICS visiting professor from the University of Tromsø, took on the large task of covering institutional approaches to future governance of the Arctic Ocean. Henriksen drew attention to the need for more integrated and holistic approaches to governance by bridging sectors and jurisdictions through adopting an ecosystem management mindset to Arctic governance. Kamrul Hossain, Associate Professor from the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland, discussed indigenous peoples and norm-making in the development of the Arctic legal regime. Hossain pointed out how the unique role of indigenous people as equal stakeholders in the consensus-based decision-making process of the Arctic Council has elevated the Arctic as an example of how indigenous people are increasing in influence in the international law-making process.

Session three touched on the theme of Regionalism within Universalism. Opening the session, Viatcheslav Gavrilov, Professor from Far Eastern Federal University in Russia, discussed the need for a mix of Political and Legal instruments congruent with universal and regional regulation goals required to face the challenges of the future Arctic. Fresh from the most recent meeting on Arctic scientific cooperation held shortly before this symposium, PCRC director Akiho Shibata discussed preliminary details of the new treaty now under negotiation from the Arctic Council’s Scientific Cooperation Task Force . Shibata revealed optimism for the level of inclusiveness and good will expressed in the new treaty, including consideration for non-Arctic Observer States to the Arctic Council such as Japan. A specific goal of the PCRC under the guiding mandate of the Arctic Challenge for Sustainably Project (ArCS) is to foster understanding between the natural science and social science researchers. Takashi Kikuchi, Deputy Director for the Institute of Arctic Climate and Environment Research (IACE), JAMSTEC, provided much needed perspective from the natural sciences by describing the technology used for Arctic scientific observation as well as the challenges and opportunities for international scientific collaboration in the Arctic Ocean.

The final main session of the symposium focused on Ecosystem Approaches. Betsy Baker, Professor at the Vermont School of Law in the United States, discussed a “Neighborhood Approach” to Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) in the Arctic. Baker drew attention to the concept of how a larger network of interrelated ecosystems can act as an Arctic-wide cooperation mechanism with co-benefits for the Arctic region. Following Baker, Suzanne Lalonde, Professor from the University of Montreal in Canada, discussed the challenges facing a Pan-Arctic Network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Based on her preliminary research on the topic, Lalonde advocated for action not just the establishment, but the development and ongoing management of Arctic MPAs. Lalonde’s research presented the group with a general discussion over the need to better define the various roles of MPAs as they are often misunderstood to the detriment of their use and effectiveness. To finish the fourth session, brief presentations were given by Assistant Professor of the PCRC, Osamu Inagaki, regarding the inter-Institutional collaboration between the ICES and the Arctic Council for ecosystem assessment in the central Arctic Ocean Ecosystem; and Associate Professor from Hokkaido University, Orio Yamamura, who discussed Japan’s research in the Arctic Ocean.

The final portion of the symposium focused on the future of research and development. Co-chair of the IIASA Arctic Futures Initiative, Hannu Halinen, provided perspective from AFI for a holistic and global approach to more integrated Arctic future. The final speaker, Atsumu Ohmura, Chair of the ArCS Council and Professor emeritus from the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, gave the group a sobering picture of the climate crisis affecting the Arctic region, and concluded by stressing the need for further integration and understanding between the fields of natural and social sciences in order to addresses the urgent global climate crisis in the Arctic and beyond.

July 13, 2016

Professor Sergunin's  Seminar "Arctic Cooperation: Challenges and Opportunities"

On July 13, the PCRC convened an international seminar by Professor Alexander Sergunin, Visiting Professor of GSICS, entitled "Arctic Cooperation: Challenges and Opportunity." In the presentation, Professor Sergunin examined the negative impacts of the Ukranian Crisis on the Arctic cooperation including the activities of the Arctic council and the potential areas for future Arctic Cooperation. He also mentioned the possible strategies to achieve such cooperation. After this insightful presentation, the participants of the seminar actively engaged in discussion with Professor Sergunin.  

December 18-19, 2015

International Symposium on Emerging Arctic Legal Orders in Science, Environment and the Ocean

After Ambassador Halinen’s insightful overview of the significance and challenges of the Arctic Council in the Arctic legal-order making, the speakers and participants in the panel discussion came to share a view that the Arctic Council is now the only inter-governmental forum specifically dealing with Arctic issues but there are certain limits to what the Arctic Council can do, like Arctic high seas fisheries. It is also noted that Arctic Council members have different attitudes as to how non-Arctic States should be engaged in the work of the Arctic Council depending on the types of the meetings.

As to Professor Johnstone’s presentation touching on the soft normative instrument such as the black carbon & methane framework allowing non-Arctic States’ participation, a view was expressed that China’s involvement might become a key to its success. Professor VanderZwaag’s presentation focused on the possible future legal order on the Arctic Ocean fisheries initiated by the five Arctic coastal States, in comparison with the still hazy prospects of the Ocean-related legal order-making in one of the task force of the Arctic Council (TFAMC), whereas a scientist, Professor Hirawake, questioned the current commercial interest in the Arctic fisheries. An interesting insight was that there might be a possibility of establishing an Arctic Ocean Council, similar to the Arctic Economic Council. Director Shibata in his presentation argued that one of the emerging legal precepts that can be found in the negotiation of the agreement is that scientists and their scientific activities should be treated equally irrespective of their nationalities, while the closed nature of the agreement remains a challenge. Professor Nishimoto in his presentation observed that the polar code may serve an important role as “a reference point” in interpreting Article 234 of the UNCLOS.

In the concluding panel discussion, the invited speakers generally supported the themes and approach of the Centre’s proposed Arctic legal order studies, while suggesting a few additional insights, such as considering the role of indigenous peoples in such order-making. During the conference reception, the speakers and participants continued the discussion in a more casual atmosphere, with Kobe beef and Fugu (blows fish) BBQ.

October 19-29, 2015

Visit by Director Shibata to World’s Leading Arctic Legal Research Institutions

Director Shibata visited the Faculty of Law at the University of Akureyri and the Polar Law Institute (PLI) , Iceland and discussed possible collaboration in research and education. Director Shibata also gave a seminar to Faculty's students and researchers on a new agreement on Arctic scientific cooperation.

Director Shibata then visited Arctic Centre at University of Lapland, Finland, and discussed in detail with its Director, Professor Timo Koivurova, possible collaboration in research and education. As a result, PCRC has been approved to become a partner organization of the Arctic Law Thematic Network under the University of the Arctic (UArctic). One doctoral student at the Centre showed concrete interest in coming to PCRC as JSPS fellow from 2017.

Director Shibata’s final destination was Jebsen Centre for the Law of the Sea , the Arctic University of Norway, and agreed to invite its Director, Professor Tore Henriksen, as GSICS visiting professor for 2016 Spring semester. Director Shibata also gave a seminar (photo) on a controversial issue of ICJ’s Whaling in the Antarctic case and its aftermath.

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