Theses Master's

A Cold War in the Arctic Council: Protecting the Aleut Peoples’ Right to a Sustainable Environment through Contemporary Multilateralism

Kang, Won Joon

Increasing temperatures in the Arctic have altered the ecological, sociocultural, economic, and geopolitical landscapes of the region. Indigenous groups that reside within the borders of Arctic nations have been met with challenges to their ways of life. Potential new trade routes through a formerly impenetrable corridor in the Arctic Circle have emerged. Russia’s comments for expanding operations into the Polar North as the Chairperson of the Arctic Council, the primary forum for Arctic governance, and China’s stated interest in the Arctic through the development of the Polar Silk Road have shown signs of a prospective commercial realpolitik partnership.

The Aleuts, who have incurred the effects of ecological changes and reside in the region of the Bering Strait where the new trade routes will potentially become actualized, appear to be threatened the most by these factors. The future of the Arctic appears grim. However, the Arctic Council has worked to incorporate the rights of indigenous peoples into its operational procedures on a normative basis by championing a form of multilateralism with non-state actors. This thesis will examine what the Arctic Council has done specifically to address the Aleuts’ challenges, and illustrate what Russian and Chinese interests in the Arctic pose for the Aleuts and the future of Arctic governance.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Nathan, Andrew
B.A., Columbia University
Published Here
August 3, 2022