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NEWPORT, R.I. - Government and academic experts will convene at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) for a two-day “Arctic Security Policy and Law in an Age of Climate Change” conference, Sept. 22 and 23. 

Presented by the NWC International Law Department (ILD) in the Center for Naval Warfare Studies, the conference is being co-sponsored with the Marine Policy Center at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and supported by the Naval War College Foundation. Seventy participants are already registered as of the end of August, and conference organizers expect more than 100 participants to attend.

“There were few conferences about the Arctic regions before the year 2005, when scientists started realizing that climate change was melting the polar ice cap,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. James Kraska, a professor with ILD who is organizing the conference with Cmdr. Sandra Selman, U.S. Coast Guard, another ILD professor. “People started having more access to the Arctic in 2005-06, and people started to think about opportunities in the region.” 

Rear Adm. David Titley, the Oceanographer and Navigator of the U.S. Navy, will deliver the keynote address on Sept. 22, discussing the Navy’s recently-formed Task Force Climate Change, which will explore the impact of climate change on Arctic security for the Chief of Naval Operations.

Kraska explained that the conference will stand out from other Arctic conferences for two major reasons.

“Our conference is focusing solely on military security equities in the Arctic, whereas most conferences focus on the broad range of interests including environmental issues, conservation, resources, and government marine scientific research,” said Kraska.

The NWC Arctic conference also includes scholars and government officials coming from the five countries that border the Arctic [Canada, United States, Greenland, Norway and Russia] and other countries that have Arctic interests. Kraska stated that this was unique in that most conferences either focus on European or North American Arctic interests, but “we are taking a global view.”

In the new century, Kraska says the Arctic has the potential to be a source of conflict in the maritime domain, because of increasing access to resources such as oil and gas, and technology developments. There are a few territorial disputes where countries disagree about maritime borders in the Arctic.

Speakers will address Arctic security issues for Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, the Russian Federation, Canada and the United States. Participants will also hear about the law of the sea, prospects for rule of law in the Arctic, a marine shipping assessment and maritime security.

The conference’s agenda is online. There is no cost to attend and registration remains open while space is available.

By Naval War College Public Affairs