Ocean Development and International Law, Vol 46, No 1, 2015, pp. 50-59.
In 2011, the member states of the Arctic Council signed the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, the first legally binding agreement negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council. In 2013, an Agreement on Oil Spill Preparedness and Response was signed. The purpose of this article is to explore why the two agreements have been negotiated, examine their substance, and assess their practical impact. Norway is used as an illustrative case. It is argued that both agreements are more important for the Arctic Council than for Norway. Explaining the reality of the agreements can indicate something about the potential for future agreements negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council.