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.

 Research Results at PCRC under ArCS

AY 2017 (April 2017 to March 2018)

AY 2016 (April 2016 to March 2017)

PCRC’s Events

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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