Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Second Department

International Relations

Reader 1

Jennifer Taw

Rights Information

© 2015 Aseem Chipalkatti


The purpose of this policy report is to elucidate the current Arctic strategies and capabilities of the major Arctic nations – Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States – with the aim of identifying American shortcomings in the region and potential policy suggestions to correct these failings. The report first illuminates the potential for resource gain in the Arctic, specifically with respect to oil and natural gas and the potential for commercial growth represented by new Arctic shipping routes. The report also discusses the difficulties associated with reaping the rewards of the Arctic, specifically the lack of maritime infrastructure, the additional costs and risks associated with operating in the Arctic, and the speed with which the Arctic is melting.

In general, the report finds that Arctic nations other than the United States are moving aggressively to protect their current and future commercial gains in the Arctic operating space. All countries are doing so by adhering to international legal standards such as the UN Convention on the Laws of the Seas and creating Arctic-specific domestic policies. The much vaunted military expansion in the Arctic is nothing more than countries attempting to protect and police their economic gains in the region. The United States has fallen far behind in all of these regards, and stands to lose out in the Arctic if it does not correct this situation immediately.

The report presents the following suggestions for the United States:

  1. Create an “American Arctic Policy” document at the Executive level
  2. Accede to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
  3. Approve or facilitate funding for a new heavy icebreaker, while solving the question of the Polar Sea
  4. Adjudicate an appropriate compromise on the Beaufort Wedge dispute with Canada
  5. Improve bilateral capabilities and create agreements with Russia in the Bering Strait and Canada in the Beaufort Sea
  6. Strengthen international Arctic cooperation through strong Arctic Council leadership