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Arctic Disaster Diplomacy

in association with
Radix:  Radical Interpretations of and Solutions for Disasters

Arctic Disaster Diplomacy

Baffin Island (2018).

Baffin Island.
(Copyright Ilan Kelman 2018.)

Svalbard / Spitsbergen

Norway-Russia Disaster Diplomacy in the High North and Arctic
Funded by the Research Council of Norway's NORRUSS (Norway-Russia) programme
1 December 2018 - 30 November 2020

Project summary:

This project uses Norway-Russia relations on, for, and around Svalbard to examine how disaster-related activities might be used, or should not be used, more in the Arctic and the High North to foster peaceful links between Norway and Russia.

Three disaster scenarios are considered to see how Norway-Russia relations might be helped, be hindered, or be unaffected:

  1. Radiation release from a ship, which might be a nuclear-powered vessel or might be during transportation of nuclear waste.

  2. Oil spill emergency management.

  3. A disease outbreak in Barentsburg.

The new theoretical work will be (i) exploring informal connections, networks, and activities for disaster-related activities; (ii) determining which documented collaboration is real and which is for show; and (iii) considering connections between local and bilateral work. The new empirical work will be (i) the original case study of Arctic disaster diplomacy for Norway-Russia relations with respect to Svalbard and (ii) the three scenarios, as described above, although a strong baseline of work exists already for oil spills which will built on.

Key themes being considered include:

  1. Personal roles and relationships. Much happens because people know each other, especially considering that people on Svalbard frequently have a job, volunteer roles, and informal community roles.

  2. Combining and connecting formal and informal processes, structures, and networks. How are informality and formality changing on Svalbard?

  3. Svalbard being developed as an Arctic Ocean hub for emergency management. Could there be consequences for militarisation?

  4. Science diplomacy, especially regarding monitoring, observation, risk analysis, and safety science but also thinking about the role of social science.

Project publications:
  • Duda, P.I. 2019. "Exploring Exceptionality for Extraterritoriality in Disasters". Presentation at Special Territorial Status and Extraterritoriality: Exceptional Sovereignties and Sovereign Exceptions, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, 20-24 January 2019.

  • Duda, P.I. and I. Kelman. 2019. "Arctic Disaster Risk Reduction and Response as Triumph?" Chapter 9, pp. 147-162 in N. Sellheim, Y.V. Zaika, and I. Kelman (eds.). 2019. Arctic Triumph: Northern Innovation and Persistence. Springer, Basel, Switzerland.

  • Duda, P.I. and I. Kelman. 2020 (April 22). "Coronavirus and the Arctic: Svalbard, Norway". UCL IRDR Blog, full text (as a webpage).

  • Duda, P.I., I. Kelman, and N. Glick. 2020. "Informal Disaster Governance". Politics and Governance, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 375-385.

  • Duda, P.I., I. Kelman, N. Glick, V. Sokolenko, N. Poussenkova, and E. Nikitina. 2022. "Disaster risk perceptions and multinational cooperation in Barentsburg, Svalbard". Polar Record, in press.

  • Kelman, I. 2019 (February 5). "Disaster Diplomacy". Ice People, p. 7.

  • Kelman, I. 2019. "Should We Plan for Polar Humanitarianism?" The Polar Connection, 10 December 2019, full text (as a webpage).

  • Kelman, I. 2020. "Arctic humanitarianism for post-disaster settlement and shelter". Disaster Prevention and Management, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 471-480.

  • Kelman, I. 2020 (November 25). "Disaster Diplomacy in the High Arctic". Psychology Today, full text (as a webpage).

  • Kelman, I. 2020. "Islandness, Arcticness, and disasterness for the Svalbard archipelago". Presentation at ISISA's 1st Global Island Studies Webinar (GISW), 23-24 June 2020, online.

  • Kelman, I. 2020. "Polar Disaster Risk Reduction". Know Disasters, October-November, pp. 38-39.

  • Kelman, I. 2020. "Profiles of Norwegian science: Svalbard and disaster diplomacy". The Norwegian American, 2 December 2020, full text (as a webpage).

  • Kelman, I. and P.I. Duda. 2020. "When we are all migrants: Participation for 'disaster diplomacy' in Svalbard, Norway". Presentation at the 17th IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion in Europe) Annual Conference, online, 1-2 July 2020.

  • Kelman, I., Y.Y. Kontar, and P. I. Duda. 2019. "Disaster-related science diplomacy for Svalbard's future". Poster at the Svalbard Science Conference, Oslo, Norway, 5-6 November 2019.

  • Kelman, I., A.K. Sydnes, P.I. Duda, E. Nikitina, and C. Webersik. 2020. "Norway-Russia Disaster Diplomacy for Svalbard". Safety Science, vol. 130, article 104896.

  • Kelman, I., C. Webersik, P.I. Duda, A.C. Auestad, A.K. Sydnes, D. Fjærtoft, E. Nikitina, and N. Poussenkova. 2019. "Does Special Territorial Status Affect Disaster Diplomacy? A Case Study of Svalbard". Presentation at Special Territorial Status and Extraterritoriality: Exceptional Sovereignties and Sovereign Exceptions, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, 20-24 January 2019.

  • Nikitina, E. 2019. "Disaster Risk Reduction in the Arctic". Presentation of the project at "Northern Sea Route: Economic, Legal and International Development perspectives". Meeting of IMEMO Science Council, IMEMO, Moscow, 30 January 2019.

  • Nikitina, E. 2019. "Disaster Risk Reduction Under the Arctic Change: Possible Regional Governance Options". Presentation at Special Territorial Status and Extraterritoriality: Exceptional Sovereignties and Sovereign Exceptions, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, 20-24 January 2019.

Northern lights / aurora borealis from Longyearbyen, Norway (2019).

Northern lights / aurora borealis from Longyearbyen, Norway.
(Copyright Ilan Kelman 2019.)

Other Publications

Bridge over Moskva River, Moscow, Russia (2014).

Over the Moskva River, Moscow, Russia.
(Copyright Ilan Kelman 2014.)

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