abaca, picture alliance.

Arctic Minerals and Sea Routes

An Overview of Resources, Access and Politics

Abundant Arctic mineral resources – hydrocarbons and hard minerals – are attracting attention. But what are the drivers and brakes of industrial development? Are the jurisdictional aspects clear, or is control of the resources subject to dispute? Likewise, Arctic sea lanes are opening up. Could access to them become a source of conflict?

U.S. Air Force, ZUMA Press, picture alliance.


German cartographer August Petermann was one of the greats of his field in the 19th century; his distinctions included receiving the highest award of the Royal Geographical Society in London. It was his firm belief that, thanks to the Gulf Stream, there was ice-free access to the North Pole. Indeed, the theme of the first ever German Cartographers’ Day in 1865, initiated by Petermann, was the organisation of a German expedition to the North. It was not until several failed expeditions and dozens of deaths later that Petermann’s theory was finally abandoned.

Michael Nolan, robertharding, picture alliance.

From No Man’s Land to the Continent of the 21st Century?

On the Future of the Antarctic

Remote and almost uninhabited, yet increasingly significant in international politics: the Antarctic is a crucial factor in the fight against climate change. And given the raw material deposits that are thought to be located there, what was once a no man’s land has the potential to develop into a geopolitical arena in the medium and long term. Germany and Europe should do more to promote stability and sustainability in the region.

David Cheskin, empics, picture alliance.

From Zone of Peace ­to Hotbed of Conflict?

The Geopolitical Importance of the Arctic

The Arctic is increasingly becoming the focus of geopolitical interests. When Mikhail Gorbachev declared the Arctic a “zone of peace” in Murmansk in 1987, it was a sign of hope for constructive cooperation between the Arctic states, but today – especially after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in violation of international law – a grim picture is emerging of power struggles, mistrust and militarisation.

Tobias, AdobeStock

Maritime Zones under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Areas of Influence of the Coastal States

What belongs to whom in the Arctic? In the absence of an “Arctic Treaty”, it is the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which defines rules on the status of different maritime zones – not only, but also in the Arctic.

Marine, dpa, picture-alliance.

New Perspectives on the Far North

Risks and Options for Germany’s Arctic Policy

Germany’s Arctic policy to date has largely consisted of declarations of intent concerning environmental protection and multilateralism. This has to change: after all, Russia is taking an increasingly confrontational stance in the Arctic too, where it is pursuing a military build-up. At the same time, China is likewise adopting a more ambitious approach in the region. For this reason, security must play a greater role in Germany’s deliberations on the Far North in future.

Ulrik Pedersen, NurPhoto, picture alliance.

The Arctic Policy of the Nordic Countries

Between Climate Change, Economic Use and Security

Vast expanses of snow and ice populated only by polar bears: this is an image of the Arctic that only partly reflects reality. Even though protecting the climate and the natural Arctic landscape is of central concern to the Nordic ­countries, economic activity is also a feature of the regions north of the Arctic Circle. Moreover, the issue of security is now high on the list of priorities again – particularly since Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Valery Sharifulin, TASS, dpa, picture alliance.

The Melting Shield

The Russian Arctic as a Geopolitical Hotspot

The High North has traditionally been of great importance to Russia – not only as a storehouse of raw materials but also in terms of security policy. While the melting of the ice is opening up new economic opportunities for Moscow, it is also depriving the country of natural protection against military attacks. As a result, the remilitarisation of the Russian Arctic is in full swing.

J. Scott Applewhite, AP, picture alliance.

The North American View of the Arctic

How Canada and the United States Are Responding to Changes in the Far North

When the legendary American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan set out the founding doctrine of the US Navy at the end of the 19th century with its central principle of maritime dominance, there was no mention of the Arctic. Yet with the rebuilding of Russian maritime capabilities after the Cold War and the simultaneous heightening of Chinese ambitions to challenge American hegemony at every opportunity, there has been a significant shift in the importance of the Arctic for both the United States and Canada. This poses considerable challenges for both of these Arctic littoral states in terms of their security policy.

Zhang Jiansong, Photoshot, picture alliance.

The Self-Proclaimed Near-Arctic State

China’s Policy in the Northern Polar Region

Some 13 degrees of latitude separate the northernmost point of China from the Arctic Circle. Yet for years now, the People’s Republic has been pushing to expand its influence in the Arctic. This is firstly due to the fact that as a rising economic power, it is hungry for raw materials. Secondly, the leadership in Beijing has identified the region as an important zone in a potential future superpower conflict.

About this series

This periodical responds to questions concerning international issues, foreign policy and development cooperation. It is aimed at access of information about the international work for public and experts.

Ordering Information

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung publishes four issues of International Reports per year. For more information please contact:

Subscribe to magazine and newsletter for free

You can subscribe to the German and English versions free of charge, either via our German-language newsletter or as a print product. If you would like to be informed for free by e-mail about the publication of new issues and contributions, please use our registration form.


Dr. Gerhard Wahlers



Benjamin Gaul

Benjamin Gaul

Head of the Department International Reports and Communication +49 30 26996 3584

Dr. Sören Soika


Editor-in-Chief International Reports (Ai) +49 30 26996 3388

Kim Karcher

Portrait von Kim Karcher

Referentin Kommunikation und Vermarktung +49 30 / 2 69 96 - 2387

Gerrit Wilcke

Gerrit Wilcke

Desk Officer for Communication and Marketing +49 30 26996-3933

Fabian Wagener

Fabian Wagener

Desk Officer for Multimedia +49 30-26996-3943