Soft institutions in Arctic governance—who does what?

Polar Record, Vol 60, 2024, 7 p. DOI: 10.1017/S0032247423000335

The linkages between the Arctic and the rest of the world have become more profound and the region is increasingly attracting attention, also from non-Arctic state actors. Parallel to this development, the discussion about the future Arctic is taking place in various arenas, forums and among an increasing number of actors with interest in the region. At a time of high tension in international relations, and an increased likelihood of spill-over to Arctic cooperation, issues of governance of the Arctic region are potentially at stake. This makes it important that scholars are accurate in their analyses; confusing the mandate, responsibilities and purposes of different arenas for cooperation can be unfortunate. This article finds support in the literature on regime complexes and aims to show and analyse the differences between three key players in the Arctic: the Arctic Council, Arctic Frontiers and the Arctic Circle Assembly. In addition to exploring their differences, we ask what role these entities play in shaping policy in and for the Arctic. From mapping out the mandates, roles and responsibilities of the Arctic Council, Arctic Frontiers and Arctic Circle Assembly, and by nuancing their formal and informal aspects, we aim to contribute to clarifying misunderstandings regarding their functions and positions vis-àvis each ot



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