Club Diplomacy in the Arctic.

Author:Burke, Danita Catherine
 
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1 Introduction

Diplomacy can be broadly defined as the art and practice of conducting nego tiations among representatives for actors (e.g., states, pan-states, international nongovernmental organizations), whereas club diplomacy is the concentration of diplomacy between a limited number actors, through their representatives, within the confines of a club that has exclusive voluntary membership. A club may in turn choose to present a single united position, which is the result of club diplomacy, and engage other actors--for example, the European Union (EU) entering trade negotiations with states such as Canada.

In this article, I explore the questions: Why are the Arctic states acting like a club in Arctic politics, and how do internal hierarchies influence how clubs make decisions? I argue that regions have a propensity to form clubs due to the ease of defining a club around a wealth of territory. Regional forums and institutions defined by territory include the Arctic Council, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the EU, and they have full membership available only for the regional states. (1) Despite the common argument that the Arctic Council is unique, in many respects it is a regional club like many others that can be found in international politics, though it does have some unique elements.

Factors such as the growing economic and political clout of Asian states in international politics (most notably China and India), (2) the changing environ ment and the anticipated opening of the Arctic region due to global warming and technological developments, (3) and growing international discontent with the current legal framework protecting high seas around the world (4) are all con tributing to the evolution of alliances and stakeholders in Arctic governance. The region's states have sovereignty and jurisdiction that cover much of the Arctic region, but not all of it. While all lands in the Arctic region are part of the recognized sovereign territory of the individual Arctic states (with the minor exception over the dispute of Hans Island between Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark), the same does not apply for the maritime region.

Using the example of the Arctic Council, in this article I illustrate that when non-club members and limited club members present ideas that are perceived as possibly impacting the status of club membership and the agenda of those members, it pressures those on top of the club's internal pecking order to project unity and justify their decisions and status. When a club is focused on subjects that extend beyond the recognized sovereignty and jurisdiction of the club members, it becomes more difficult for the members to justify their exclusiveness and maintain their status.

The Arctic Ocean is approximately 14.1 million square kilometers. (5) There are high seas in the Central Arctic Ocean that lie outside of the jurisdiction of the Arctic states, an area of approximately 2.8 million square kilometers. (6) It is this high seas portion of the Arctic region, and the increased interest in it, that has created a big challenge for the Arctic states as they work to coop erate on regional issues, using avenues such as their Arctic Council club. As a result of the Central Arctic Ocean being international waters, the renewable and non-renewable resources there are common goods. As a result of grow ing pressures from non-Arctic states and actors to have more input in regional governance discussions, the Arctic states have faced questions about the use fulness of the current club format and have had to take an increasingly nuanced approach toward non-Arctic states involvement in the region. The internal debate over the future of the Arctic Council and regional governance is a reflec tion of the Arctic states' efforts to navigate their internal pecking orders while balancing their combined objective to maintain their status as the leaders in regional governance in the face of growing non-Arctic state pressure on their status.

To explore the central research questions, this article is structured as fol lows. First, I outline the methodology. After that, I discuss club diplomacy and the role that hierarchies play in how clubs such as the Arctic Council work and respond to pressures. Then, I explore the Arctic Council, outlining its history and why it constitutes as a club. Finally, I illustrate the implications of inter nal hierarchies on how clubs manage external pressures, such as an interest for group expansion or governance reform.

2 Methodology

This research uses a qualitative research methodology. According to Bill Gillham, "Qualitative methods focus primarily on the kind of evidence (what peo ple tell you, what they do) that will enable you to understand the meaning of what is going on. Their great strength is that they can illuminate issues and turn up possible explanations." (7) The specific qualitative methodology that I use in this article is a case study method. I selected the case study method to illu minate the nuances of club dynamics, using cooperation in the Arctic region through the Arctic Council as an illustrative case. The case study method is an empirical inquiry approach that "focuses on describing, understanding, pre dicting, and/or controlling the individual (i.e., process, animal, person, house hold, organization, group, industry, culture, or nationality)." (8) This methodology allows for an in-depth analysis of the selected case, which, in turn, helps to provide the data needed to develop on existing theoretical understanding about diplomacy.

The main form of primary data collection that I used was semi-structured interviews, which I supplemented with research using the Arctic Council's web site and digital open-access repository. I conducted fieldwork for this research in 2016 and 2017 throughout the Arctic countries. In total, I conducted sixty-six interviews, seven of which were research design and advisory conversations. Of the remaining fifty-nine interviews, thirty-four were with Arctic Council dele gates and officials; four with researchers based at think tanks; ten with estab lished international academics who write about and research numerous fields of political science, international relations, sociology, history, economics, and biology; three with high-ranking diplomats (e.g., former and current ambas sadors and individuals with more than twenty-five years of foreign service) from Arctic countries; two with elected officials from Arctic countries; five with civil servants from various Arctic state ministries such as defense, environment, and foreign affairs; and one with a representative from a nongovernmental organization (NGO) heavily involved in Arctic environmental campaigning. The diplomats, elected officials, civil servants, and NGO representative all have experience with aspects of Arctic politics and policymaking for their countries, but are not part of Arctic Council delegations.

When I approached interviewees for this research, I assured them that their names and any identifiable characteristics (e.g., gender, permanent workplace, country of origin) would not be disclosed if they were willing to have an inter view. Concern about being identified was expressed by some interviewees, par ticularly delegates to the Arctic Council, diplomats, and civil servants; thus, to help maintain the privacy of these individuals, all interviewee identities are anonymized. The diplomatic and research community in the Arctic Council and Arctic politics is relatively small, so identifying some interviewees and not others would risk exposing the identity of participants who trusted me to keep their identities safe because they could be potentially identified by the process of elimination.

3 Club Diplomacy and Defining a "Club"

There are multiple forms of diplomacy in international politics, but the form of the diplomacy within the Arctic Council is characteristic of club diplomacy. The concept of club diplomacy can be traced back to the nineteenth cen tury and the Concert of Europe, originally made up of the Quadruple Alliance of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain, referring to the Concert as "the true ancestor of club diplomacy." (9) The Concert of Europe "was based on the principle of common deliberation and unanimous decision-making. Its mem bers were bound by solidarity without challenging their sovereignty. However, those who were excluded de facto had to abide by its choices: the oligarchs were sovereign because they were powerful." (10) Jeffrey A. Winters and Benjamin I. Page state that, ultimately, the "possession of great wealth defines member ship in an oligarchy, provides the means to exert oligarchic power and pro vides the incentives to use that power for the core political objective of wealth defense." (11) Wealth does not necessarily have to mean only financial wealth. Wealth can also be in the form of natural resources and territory. As Table 1 illustrates, club diplomacy is one of many forms of diplomacy that is prac ticed.

The first literature that began to explore the links between club construc tion and membership emerged in the field of economics. According to Todd Sandler, a "club is a voluntary group deriving mutual benefits from sharing one or more of the following: production costs, the members' characteristics, or a good characterized by excludable benefits." (12) The concepts of clubs and club goods originate in the work of James Buchanan and his seminal piece, "An Economic Theory of Clubs," in which he describes clubs as "consumption ownership-membership arrangements." Buchanan calls club theory "a theory of co-operative membership," (13) arguing that clubs are "a member-owned insti tutional arrangement for the provision of a club good that is subject to some rivalry in the form of congestion," with congestion being "a detraction in a club good's quantity or quality from increased utilization by the...

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