• The Finnish Commitee For European Security

    Suomen Toimikunta Euroopan Turvallisuuden Edistämiseksi


Nordic Forum for Security Policy 2014:
”THE ARCTIC AND BARENTS REGIONS – Cooperation, Human Rights and Security Challenges”

Tromso, Norway
12th – 14th November 2014


The Nordic Forum 2014 concentrated on the topics of cooperation, human rights and security challenges in the Arctic and Barents regions and it was held in the arctic capital, the city of Tromsø. An impressive amount of know-how and important actors and institutions regarding Arctic issues were gathered in this Arctic city.

With comprehensive changes in security politics and environment in the Arctic, the topic of the latest Nordic Forum was extremely timely. The arctic region has become increasingly important as well as controversial in economical and political terms. Especially from the Finnish point of view these aspects are highlighted e.g. in the newly updated arctic strategy of Finland and in the conflict about Arctic drilling between Russia and Greenpeace activists.

The oil and gas resources of the Arctic region and the North-East Passage stimulate the increasing interest of international actors. However, the increasing number of actors coupled with contradictory interests creates and brings up new threats and security problems: What is the conflict potential in the Arctic region? Are the talks about the new cold war far-fetched? How do the rights of indigenous people relate with the growing interests of corporate actors? What does sustainable development mean in the Arctic context with the pressure from actors of different sectors? What kind of challenges and new opportunities does the warming climate cause? Is it possible to sustain and provide sufficient search and rescue, and oil spill prevention and response capacities to meet the challenges from growing sea traffic? Can the Arctic region comprise a conflict free zone as does the Antarctica and with what kind of governance? Nordic Forum offers an excellent platform to find solutions to afore mentioned problems and aims at such comprehensive views of possible questions to open the conversation.

The comprehensive security approach is highlighted in the conference program (see the attachment), which has been built upon the three dimensions of OSCE: in the workshops and panel discussions of the Nordic Forum complex questions of traditional security policy, environment, economy and human rights were tackled. Distinctive topics for Arctic region to be considered could be for example emergency preparedness regarding natural disasters, rights and living conditions of indigenous people, the establishment and coordination of regional cooperation and governance, and prevention of potential regional conflicts and more general military securitization of the area.

The important role of civil society was emphasized in the forum: Could civil society have the capabilities and possibility to deter and monitor the geopolitical interests, act as the protector of delicate arctic ecosystem or to secure the fulfilment of social rights of the indigenous people? With its activities, STETE has promoted and supported activities stemming from civil society. This perspective was emphasised again in Nordic Forum 2014.