Jessica Shadian – Alternative diplomacies and the Inuit Circumpolar Council



Event Date: 8 – 9 November  2013
Unrecognised Nations and Peoples Organisation
Laan van Meerdervoort 70
2517 AN The Hague
The Netherlands

Alternative Cultures of Diplomacy

Part of the Diplomatic Cultures Research Network (AH/J013900/1)

Dr Jessica ShadianAlternative diplomacies and the Inuit Circumpolar Council

Discussions which take into account alternative diplomacies beyond traditional interstate political relations are vast. Their role in global affairs call into question traditional Westphalian ideas of state sovereignty and this has led to new theoretical arguments which range from notions of shared sovereignty and post-Westphalian sovereignty to the demise of sovereignty and the nation-state altogether. Despite these ongoing reflections, IR continues to struggle to adequately understand and accommodate alternative diplomacies in global politics. My presentation will focus on the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) as a means to explore this challenge for both theory and practice. The narrative of the ICC is the narrative of a polity which represents ‘the Inuit ‘as a people that transcends four states throughout the Arctic (Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland). As a transnational polity its aim is not for statehood but instead to ensure that Inuit are subjects and not objects of regional and global politics and in doing so its mandate is to promote and ensures Inuit sovereignty (self-determination) at home. The ICC has accomplished this by turning traditional stereotypes of Inuit – as backward, ungoverned and while living off the land they are not land owners in their own right –  into the world’s practitioners of sustainable development with the rights to own and control the land and resources where they live. Rather than stewardship being a means to ignore or override Inuit autonomy it is the means by which the ICC demands its place at the negotiating table. By delving into the particular politics of the ICC we can address the larger issues of the role and power of alternative diplomacies in global politics.

Dr Jessica Shadian is an Associated Researcher at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland and a visiting researcher at the University of Tromsø. Her research explores the political, historical and legal issues of Arctic resource development with a view towards understanding and mitigating relations between policy makers, private industry and indigenous communities. Her forthcoming book  The Politics of Arctic Sovereignty: Oil, Ice, and Inuit Governance (Routledge Press) is a political history of Inuit politics and Arctic governance as it relates to changing ideas of sovereignty, the Westphalian political system and resource development. Shadian also does consultancy work for industry, policy makers and indigenous groups engaged with Arctic extractive industries.





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