Norway’s High North Geopolitics: Continuities and Changes Through Three Decades

  • Christoph HumrichEmail author
Part of the Frontiers in International Relations book series (FIR)


The chapter reviews Norwegian geopolitics of High North security, sovereignty, and sustainable development from the end of the Cold War to the end of the second decade of the new millennium. The chapter pays particular attention to the consequences of Norway being a small power, but a large coastal state. The formulation of High North policies is traced through the development of respective documents and related to domestic political processes. The policies are characterized by certain internal tensions, around which they have varied over time and which have become more pronounced. As the overall political situation in the High North deteriorates, this might hamper Norway’s ability to remain the pivotal supporter of international cooperation in the Arctic it has been so far.


  1. Axworthy, T. S., & Dean, R. (2013). Changing the arctic paradigm from Cold War to cooperation: How Canada’s indigenous leaders shaped the Arctic Council. The Yearbook of Polar Law, 5, 7–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berg, R. (2016). Norsk Utanrikspolitikk etter 1814. Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget.Google Scholar
  3. Blunden, M. (2009). The new problem of Arctic stability. Survival, 51(5), 121–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dodds, K. (2013). The Ilulissat Declaration (2008): The Arctic states, ‘Law of the Sea’, and Arctic Ocean. SAIS Review of International Affairs, 33(2), 45–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ebinger, C. K., & Zambetakis, E. (2009). The geopolitics of Arctic melt. International Affairs, 85(6), 1215–1232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Flikke, G. (2011). Norway and the Arctic: Between multilateral governance and geopolitics. In J. Kraska (Ed.), Arctic security in an age of climate change (pp. 64–84). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Forsvarssjefen.(2019). Et styrket Forsvar. Oslo: Forsvarsjefens Fagmilitære Råd.Google Scholar
  8. Gullestad, P., Aglen, A., Bjordal, Å., Blom, G., Johansen, S., Krog, J., et al. (2014). Changing attitudes 1970–2012: Evolution of the Norwegian management framework to prevent overfishing and to secure long-term sustainability. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 71(2), 173–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Haavisto, P. (2001). Review of the Arctic Council’s structures. Consultant’s study. Helsinki: The Finnish Institute of International Affairs.Google Scholar
  10. Hønneland, G. (2014). Norway’s High Arctic policy. In R. W. Murray & A. Dey Nuttal (Eds.), International Relations and the Arctic. Understanding policy and governance (pp. 235–261). Amherst/NY: Cambria Press.Google Scholar
  11. Hønneland, G. (2011). Kompromiss als Routine. Russland, Norwegen und die Barentssee. Osteuropa, 61(2–3), 257–270.Google Scholar
  12. Humrich, C. (2018). Sustainable development in Arctic international environmental cooperation and the governance of hydrocarbon-related activities. In C. Pelaudeix & E. M. Basse (Eds.), Governance of Arctic offshore oil and gas (pp. 31–46). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Jensen, L. C. (2016). From the High North to the Low South: Bipolar Norway’s Antarctic strategy. The Polar Journal, 6(2), 273–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jensen, L. C., & Hønneland, G. (2011). Framing the High North: Public discourses in Norway after 2000. Acta Borealia, 28(1), 37–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Keil, K. (2014). The Arctic—A new region of conflict? the case of oil and gas. Cooperation and Conflict, 49(2), 162–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Leira, H., Borchgrevink, A., Græger, N., Melchior, A., Stamnes, E., & Øverland, I. (2007). Norske selvbilder og norsk utenrikspolitik. Oslo: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.Google Scholar
  17. Lodgaard, S. (2005). Ny norsk politikk i nord. Accessed 20 Jan 2020.
  18. Mikkelsen, A., & Langhelle, O. (Eds.). (2008). Arctic oil and gas. Sustainability at risk?. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Moe, A., Fjærtoft, D., & Øverland, I. (2011). Space and timing: Why was the Barents Sea delimitation dispute resolved in 2010? Polar Geography, 34(3), 145–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. NMoD.(2001). Omleggingen av Forsvaret i Perioden 2002–2005. St.prp. nr. 45 (2000-2001). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Defence.Google Scholar
  21. NMoD.(2004). Den videre Moderniseringen av Forsvaret i perioden 2005–2008. St.prp. nr. 42 (2003–2004). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Defence.Google Scholar
  22. NMoD.(2008). Et Forsvar til Vern om Norges Sikkerhet, Interesser og Verdier. St.prp. nr. 48 (2007–2008). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Defence.Google Scholar
  23. NMoD.(2015). Kampkraft og Bærekraft. Langtidsplan for Forsvarssektoren. St.prop. nr 151S (2015–2016). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Defence.Google Scholar
  24. NMoFA.(2005). Muligheter og Utfordringer i Nord. St.meld.Nr. 30 (2004–2005). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Google Scholar
  25. NMoFA.(2006). The Norwegian High North Strategy. Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Google Scholar
  26. NMoFA.(2009). New Building Blocks in the North. The next Step in the Government’s High North Strategy. Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Google Scholar
  27. NMoFA.(2011). The High North. Visions and Strategies. St.meld.Nr. 7 (2011–2012). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Google Scholar
  28. NMoFA.(2014). Nordkloden. Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Google Scholar
  29. Norges Regjering. (2017). Nordområdestrategi. Mellom geopolitikk of samfunnsutvikling. Oslo: Departemene.Google Scholar
  30. NOU.(2000). Et Nytt Forsvar. Norges Offentlige Utredninger 2000:32. Oslo: Statens Fortvaltningstjeneste, Informasjonsforvaltning.Google Scholar
  31. NOU.(2003). Mot Nord!‘. Utfordringer og Muligheter i Nordområdene. Norges Offentlige Utredninger 2000:32. Oslo: Statens Fortvaltningstjeneste, Informasjonsforvaltning.Google Scholar
  32. Nyhamar, T. (2004). Security policies from constraints to choice. In K. Heidar (Ed.), Nordic Politics. Comparative Perspectives (pp. 228–246). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.Google Scholar
  33. Østhagen, A., & Raspotnik, A. (2019). Why is the European Union challenging Norway over snow crab? Svalbard, special interests, and Arctic governance. Ocean Development and International Law, 50(2–3), 190–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Østhagen, A., Levi Sharp, G., & Sigurd Hilde, P. (2018). At opposite poles: Canada’s and Norway’s approaches to security in the Arctic. The Polar Journal, 8(1), 163–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pedersen, T. (2006). The svalbard continental shelf controversy: Legal disputes and political rivalries. Ocean Development and International Law, 37(3–4), 339–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pedersen, T., & Henriksen, T. (2009). Svalbard’s maritime zones: The end of legal uncertainty? International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, 24(1), 141–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rahbek-Clemmensen, J. & Thomasen, G. (2018). Learning from the Ilulissat initiative. State power, institutional legitimacy, and governance in the Arctic Ocean 2007–18. Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen/Centre for Military Studies.Google Scholar
  38. Rossi, Christopher R. (2015). A unique international problem: The Svalbard Treaty, equal enjoyment, and terra nullius. Washington University Global Studies Law Review, 15(1), 93–136.Google Scholar
  39. Rottem, S. V. (2013). The Arctic Council and the Search and Rescue Agreement: The case of Norway. Polar Record, 50(3), 284–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sellheim, N. (2012). The establishment of the permanent Arctic Council secretariat: Challenges and opportunities. In T. S. Axworthy, T. Koivurova, & W. Hasanat (Eds.), The Arctic council: Its place in the future of Arctic governance (pp. 60–82). Toronto: The Gordon Foundation.Google Scholar
  41. Skagestad, O. G.(2010). The ‘High North’: An elastic concept in Norwegian Arctic policy. FNI Report 10/2010, Lysaker: Fridtjof Nansen Institute.Google Scholar
  42. Skjærseth, J. B., & Rosendahl, K. G. (1995). Norges miljø-utenrikspolitik. In T. L. Knutsen, G. M. Sørbø, & S. Gjerdåker (Eds.), Norges utentrikspolitikk (pp. 161–180). Oslo: Cappelen Akademisk Forlag.Google Scholar
  43. Tamnes, R. (2011). Arctic security and Norway. In J. Kraska (Ed.), Arctic security in an age of climate change (pp. 64–84). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Wilhelmsen, J., & Gjerde, K. L. (2018). Norway and Russia in the Arctic: New cold war contamination? Arctic Review on Law and Politics, 9, 382–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Young, O. R. (1998). Creating regimes. Arctic accords and international governance. Ithaca/NY: Cornell University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations