The ‘Race’ for the Arctic: A Case of Misunderstood Geopolitics?

By Ragnhild Groening


This paper explores the potential areas of conflict and cooperation in the Arctic with aspecial focus on territorial claims and energy resources. The paper will first present the legal framework governing the Arctic region, with a focus on the U.N.Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).Second, it will discuss the territorial claims that have been made by the Arctic states. Third, the paper will look closer into the actual level of tension in the region and discuss whether or not the territorial disputes have the potential of turning into conflicts in the future. The paper finds that although there have been some overlapping territorial claims in the Arctic and an increased military presence, a great deal of this can be explained by national pride and security interests as the ice melts. The paper also finds that most of the energy resources in the Arctic are located within the Exclusive Economic Zones of the Arctic nations and are consequently not contested. The potential for conflict in the Arctic is at the moment not very high.

About the Author:

Aaron Rosen is a dual degree master’s student between the London School of Economics and George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. In London he focused on the political economy of international trade and imperial history, and in Washington he specializes on U.S. foreign policy. He is interested in Western hemispheric affairs and Transatlantic relations. Aaron Rosen is the interview editor at IAR.

Photo taken by Iowa Yoder.

Download PDF: 

About Us

The International Affairs Review is a graduate student-run publication of the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Follow us on:

Submission Guidelines

The International Affairs Review is currently accepting article submissions. Submissions for the website are accepted on a weekly basis with a deadline of 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time each Thursday. Submissions for the print journal are accepted continuously, with article selection occurring at the beginning of each semester.

Click here for more information


Opinions expressed in International Affairs Review are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Affairs Review, The Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, or any other person or organization formally associated with International Affairs Review.

Click here for more information

Contact Us

Please feel free to contact our team with any questions or concerns.

Print Journal:

The Elliott School of International Affairs
George Washington University
1957 E Street, NW
Room 303-K
Washington, DC 20052