Author Biography

Dr. Sybille Reinke de Buitrago is Fellow at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH), Germany. She holds a BA and MA in International Affairs from American University in Washington, DC, and a PhD in political science from the University of Hamburg. Sybille Reinke de Buitrago focuses on International Relations, foreign policy, and security policy, in particular how aspects of identity, perception, space, emotions, and discourse affect conflict and cooperation at the international level. She has published two monographs, an edited volume, and peer-reviewed articles in international journals.



Subject Area Keywords

Foreign policy, Identity, International relations, National security, Security policy


The Arctic is undergoing rapid changes and gaining geopolitical attention. The effects of climate change in the region lead to both potential and hopes for new resources, new or shorter transit routes, and other opportunities. Most Arctic coastal states have come forward with interest articulations. Some coastal states also see their national security and sovereignty at risk. While the region has seen a significant level of cooperation in some areas in the past, current developments seem to motivate both stronger risk representations and confrontational actions. Among the coastal states, particularly Canada, the United States, and Russia express increasing points of contention and articulate risk representations, and they have engaged in military and hard-security activities that make actual conflict more likely. With existing conflicts of interests, a high uncertainty regarding future developments, and even non-Arctic states like China claiming Arctic interests, conflict potential may be on the rise. The article hones in on current developments regarding hard security in the Arctic. The empirical section discusses risk representation, including the role of spatial constructions and national identity, and the confrontational actions already taken. It concludes with implications regarding conflict potential in the Arctic.