Human Security, Models of Co-management, and Arctic Peoples Participation in Decision-making

Human Security, Models of Co-management, and  Arctic Peoples Participation in Decision-making

The concept of human security has today a wider connotation than the focus prevalent during the Cold War. The militarization of the Arctic in a world of dual superpowers focused to a higher degree on the security of the Arctic centers. In those days' important development issues in Arctic regions were overshadowed by militarization. Yet in the security discourse, it has become apparent that the opening research question in an Arctic context should be:

Should security research include non-military research questions and promote the Arctic as an international zone of peace, or should it sustain the Cold War conceptualization of security? 

The former world bank economist David Ellerman has approached knowledge-based global development assistance and a helper-doer relationship in a way that is useful in relation to indigenous Arctic people (Ellerman, 2009, Winther, 2016). Ellerman does not address Arctic peoples’ issues directly, yet in a human security context, it is important to understand indigenous people's view on security as different from militaristic strategists’ approach in center economies. Ellerman concentrates on development aid, income transfers, and knowledge organized by assisting facilitators from the center economies. Aid must start from where the local doers are. Facilitators must acknowledge that interaction with indigenous people involves an unequivocal understanding of the aboriginal culture, motives, and behavior. We must learn to see the world through the local doers’ eyes. A conceptualization of human security must respect the local indigenous peoples' autonomy. The nonmilitary approach to human security implies aborigines seeing health, human safety, local autonomy, and wellbeing is crucial. This includes cultural security, economic security and development, Self-reliance, environmental security, job security, and a non-alienated life. The opening hypotheses of this proposal concentrate on participation in economic and political decision-making processes to promote the resilience of people in the Arctic against destructive external hegemonistic power. This can invigorate sustainable economic development in local regional settings. Non-alienating participatory structures that recognize the preservation of elements of the traditional culture may improve economic and organizational performance in a comparative context. Although based on different methodologies empirical research in many countries on participatory organizations has suggested positive results of participatory organizations. It is rare to see such unambiguous results in social sciences (Winther, 1997 and 2001). To analyze whether these organizational structures have the same impact on human security in the Arctic, the opening research question can be narrowed to:

How do Arctic regions fare in terms of a self-reliant strategy aiming at preserving the Arctic as an international zone of peace? How do we conceptualize models of co-management and participation in Arctic regions? Do these models impact indigenous people’s resilience in terms of culture? Comparing to state- and capital controlled firms how does participation fare? Do the indigenous people participate in political decision making? Are there any motivational and economic gains related to Arctic people's participation in decision-making and to human development at the meso and macro levels?

Despite an impressive record of growth and development, modernization has led to a lack of cultural security and an alienated indigenous populace eking out an existence characterized by social apathy and a feeling of being a spectator instead of a participant in development. This hampers development further as it suggests that human security and human development can release an innovative spirit and a cultural identity that is important to indigenous peoples' self-determination. Improving the quality of life and removing social apathy and alienated attitudes will be an important leverage to create economic and human development.


Militarization versus Self-Reliance

Conflicts seem to be in the making with a changed orientation toward the Arctic that has led to tensions between China, Russia, and the US. In the past, we still saw indications that the five Arctic centers would comply with the Ilulissat Declaration of 2008. Arctic states agreed to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as one regulating instrument even though the US is still not a party to the convention. Since 2007, when Russia planted a flag in the Arctic Seabed, a military buildup and presence have nonetheless been present from NATO members in the Arctic Council and Russia. What continues despite UNCLOS is struggles for military and economic power, territorial disputes, and hunts for resources in the Arctic.

A renewed cold war has implications for northern Russia's development plans. Reliance on the extraction and export of minerals and metals, oil, and gas leaves Russia vulnerable: The Arctic region comprises one-fifth of Russia’s GDP (Aurel Braun and Stephen Blank, 2017). Mining, oil, and gas under the Polar Ocean and the North Pole area open the prospect of growth and development. Additionally, the thawing northern rim of Siberia opens 22.000 kilometers stretch from the Kola Peninsula to the Bering Strait both onshore and offshore in Russian territorial waters. The thawing Northeast passage creates a shipping lane, which Russia aims to control.

China's observer status in the Arctic Council makes China an active player in the battle for Arctic resources and shipping routes. The Sino-Russian Arctic alliance is an opening for China to use its economic power and increase its global influence. In terms of energy security China participate in financing liquefied natural gas plants and increase trade through pipelines and LNG supertankers. Besides, The Northeast passage realizes a “Silk Road on Ice”. This strengthens China’s influence and security concerning its periphery. Making the infrastructure “One Belt, One Road” initiative a central part of the strategy, China aims at becoming the leading global power in the long run.

The "Arctic Strategy Report" from the US Department of Defense defines Russia and China as an existential threat to the existing world order. American interests in this context can hardly be anything other than seeking continued hegemony. According to SIPRI, the United States was among the 15 countries that spent the most on its military. The US with 38% of global military spending invested as much in the military in 2019 as the subsequent 10 countries combined (Nan Tian, et. Al. 2020). Hegemonism implies obstructing China's and Russia's ability to exploit Russia’s legal international borders as a corridor that can promote these countries' international competitiveness through a changed logistic and increased export of natural resources. Attempts to block the North European Gas Pipeline between Russia and Germany (North Stream project) is not a unique case.

These developments may restore the dominance of military establishments, state monopolism, and the neoliberal state in the centers. The problem is that it will impede indigenous peoples' attempts to strengthen self-governed, and self-managed organizational innovations. When people in the peripherical North perceive it as imperative to obtain self-reliance, this demands that the North participates in setting the agenda for security issues and keeping the Arctic as an international zone of peace. Likewise, in a human development strategy, it calls for resources freed for future local investments in local economic circuits replacing militarism, neocolonialist investments, and capital exports. The military establishment's dominance in the Arctic has earlier damaged the Inuit way of life. One of the glaring examples is the enforced relocation of Inughuit families in northern Greenland, because of the construction of the Thule airbase.


Preserving Elements of the Traditional Economy in the Arctic

The impact of peoples’ participation, and the allocation of resources that it creates, raises the issue of how to blend the traditional and the modern economy. In this project, we will distinguish between the old traditional economy and the new traditional economy. In a market setting, the allocation is based on “rational decision-making” subordinating socio-cultural factors' impact to the philosophy of 'homo oeconomicus'. In traditional economies, we may ask if there is an ’Inuit Oeconomicus Arcticum’. In northern Scandinavia and the Barents region, the same questions occur for the Saami aborigines.  The indigenous people's ability to understand the land and the sea and to live off it sustainably is paramount in a traditional economy. Family 'groupism' permeates and organizes the traditional economic system founded on 1) redistributive allocation, 2) reciprocal allocation, and 3) household allocation. In terms of redistribution, the tribal chief (among Inuits, the great hunter)  leads hunting, distribution, and exchange. In the reciprocal economy, the exchange is procedural and based on the principle of gifts between social entities and barter. Households prioritize catches and consumption before reciprocal and relations. Food is harvested and organized in kinship-based groups and the reciprocity is organized as informal partnerships between family groups. The catch is a common good, it cannot be owned, and hence an informal usufruct right to the land and game rule. Organizational principles in the traditional Arctic economies point to a community, 'teamwork', and non-ownership rights. Activities are undertaken in a co-operative manner. The well-being of individuals such as strong health, being knowledgeable, or being clothed and housed are essential. Transferring the values into the modern economy and preserving them is what constitutes a classification of the system as 'New Traditional'. The New Traditional economy still distributes catches into the following categories: 1) household's consumption of the household's production, 2) gifts from family and other households, 3) sharing of catches following local traditions and principles, 4) barter economy, and 5) purchase and sales of local food from and to other catchers and fishermen in local markets, in local cooperatives, or state-, or privately-owned supermarkets. However, people in the Arctic may make ends meet by introducing elements of the monetary economy along with traditional ways. Money is a way to supplement subsistence activities with cash-paying part-time wage-earning and hunted and fished catches traded in local markets (in the street, or door sales). Subsistence hunter associations, non-profit organizations, and cooperatives are a defense mechanism against outsider harvesting or buying of the game underpricing (monopsony). The survival of the subsistence sector cannot avoid 'marketization' if the local communities in arctic regions want to maintain the traditional ways. Yet, taking this further to a modern economy, the traditional allocation based on community, sharing, and participation can be preserved by participatory and self-managed organizations competing with traditional companies. It is often emphasized that these organizational principles are more in harmony with the Inuit philosophy of traditional values like community, sharing, teamwork, and non-ownership rights to land and animate resources.


Indigenous People’s Political and Economic Participation

Assessing which organizations that best represent political and economic participatory practices, the research aims at these samples and/or cases:

- Local participation in municipal/county, regional and international political decision-making promoting the Arctic as an international zone of peace, local resilience, and increased self-reliance.

- Sámi reindeer herders and Sámi (Siidas) collectives (Hugo Reinert et. Al, 2010)

- Traditional privately-owned companies with participatory structures like Labor-management committees, shop steward systems, employee board representation, and self-managed groups.

- Sole proprietorships or family-owned enterprises with participation schemes or informal cooperation

- People-owned corporations (in Alaska and Arctic Canada)

- State-owned companies in Greenland and Russia

- Cooperatives: supplier, consumer, worker, and hybrid cooperatives

- Democratic non-cooperative businesses (employee ownership, suppliers ownership)


Co-management, Participation, and Self-management in Arctic Regions

Co-management is defined as a decision-making process regarding the management of fish and game and it involves authorities and self-employed individuals (Caulfield, 2000). It is an acknowledgment of indigenous people's land claims and rights to animate resources. Co-management as such involves hunters, trappers, herders, and fishermen directly in collaboration with authorities. It opens for participatory decision making of self-employed labor in primary trades. Co-management does not however take participation in state- and privately-owned companies or corporations into account. Moreover, it does not add participation in suppliers, consumers, workers, or multipurpose co-operatives in the Arctic.

At the corporate level, Inuit and native people's stockholding companies in Alaska and Arctic Canada needs further analysis of participatory management structures. In Alaska, the regional corporations were established because of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Native-owned corporations’ goal is to provide Alaska's native peoples with stewardship of ancestral lands and other resources. Nunavik, Nunavut, the  James Bay and Northern Quebec Land Claims Agreement, and the Makkivik Corporation are other obvious areas of research. In Russia corporations like Gazprom, Rosneft, and other companies from the center operated in strategically important sectors as State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs)  Furthermore, Inuit involvement through interest-articulating associations like the KNAPK and the self-government owned companies in Greenland are potential cases to study. In Lapland, it could include the Sámi herders and Siidas collectives. 

Ownership is of crucial importance in case studies. Regardless of the differences, these corporations are what one formally may label people-ownership. Formal ownership, people's stockholding, or indirect stockholding through Self-government and SOE ownership conceptually demands that the owner has an efficient disposition over the corporation's assets. It demands that the ownership object is utilized in the owner's interest and it implies that the owner is in control and can participate as local citizens (stakeholders), suppliers, consumers, and employees in decision-making. Hence, the indigenous peoples' ownership right must fulfill two criteria: 1) The corporate assets are utilized in the interest of the indigenous people and members of the regional and local community and 2) The efficient disposition right over the assets, the ownership object is the local and regional residents. It is not a bureaucratic and technocratic elite that is in charge, it is local stakeholders, suppliers (co-managers), consumers, and employees with an interest in the corporations' operations.

This is a hard nut to crack; John Kenneth Galbraith has repeatedly brought the techno-structural problem into the corporate debate (Galbraith, 1967, 1982, and 2004). In terms of empirical analysis of power distribution, Arnold Tannenbaum's control curve method is a potential analytical tool that can help us understand whether democratic control is obliterated in Alaskan native corporations, the Makkivik Corporation, Royal Greenland, and other companies and corporations (Tannenbaum, 1968).

When it comes to co-operatives and democratically owned companies we see organizational structures based on the Rochdale principles of democratic control, profit sharing, limited liability, and total or partial absence of capital gains. Members of a cooperative can only take initial contributions with them when leaving the co-op, or they may be taking parts of deferred profit shares with them. Such companies may still struggle with the technostructure. Such companies are small and medium-sized; the corporate hierarchy is substituted with an all-channel network less vulnerable to technocratic dominance (Williamson, 1975).


Activities of Our Consortium

One of the early activities of the consortium established for the project will be to meet at a workshop aiming at discussing theories and empirical methods and distributing assignments of the participants in the group. The field of research for the timeline of the project will include these topics:

Security Preserving the Arctic as an International Zone of Peace:

The project will draw on existing knowledge from the Development and International Political Economy Studies at Aalborg University. The aim is to analyze China’s, Russia’s the USA’s relations to Arctic regions and indigenous people’s influence in international bodies. The main issue is a critical approach to the warfare economy and conflicts resolutions as opposed to the Ilulissat meetings agreement about UNCLOS as the regulation tool for international relations in the Arctic.

Human security, Human Development and, Well Being:

The human security approach is especially important for Arctic people. The narrow concept of security is no longer applicable in an interdependent modern world because threats in a broader sense replace security threats of interstate tensions and warfare. The aim is to conceptualize human security and human development. The project will draw on the collaboration with the former Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLICA).

The Traditional and New Traditional Economy:

Defining and analyzing the traditional economy is important for a humanistic approach emphasizing the importance of non-traditional threats in international relations theory. The traditional economy of the North involves economic security, development, innovations and self-reliance, food security, health security, environmental security,  community security, and political security. The traditional way of life is in this context a basic requisite securing cultural security.

Co-management, Participation, cooperatives, and self-management:

Conceptualization of co-management, participatory management, cooperative ownership structures, and the labor-managed economy. Comparisons participatory organizations to state- and capital-controlled organizations are essential for the understanding of participatory management at the micro-level, and macro-level.  Analysis of indigenous people's participation in political decision-making and management of the living and non-living resources (Co-management); local participation in innovations and entrepreneurship, democratic businesses, cooperatives, and social enterprises. Motivational and economic gains related to people's participation at the meso and macro levels will be analyzed?

Methodologies to be discussed at the first workshop. We will discuss these in relation to our description of the timeline of the project.


References:, 2020

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