Does the Inuit Circumpolar Council have a future?

In the organ that I edit, Poul Krarup, the editor of Sermitsiaq, asks, but does not entirely answer, a question that people started asking more than 20 years ago:

The ICC has gone from being a protest organization to the mainstream, from exciting to boring. Everything it has done and said has been agreed to. National governments follow its instructions. What then is the point of the ICC? What role can it take on?

Full text here: A new role for the Inuit Circumpolar Council?

You’ll note he bemoans the absence of east-west transportation and communications links in the Arctic, and calls for “more intra-regional trade and economic integration.”

Trade in what? The leaders of each Inuit region have opted for forms of resource development that make this impossible. If exploration firms like Cairn Energy ever find commercially viable deposits of crude oil off Greenland, Greenland will profit from them by selling its production into a global market, not to Nunavut or even Canada. The Meadowbank mine in Nunavut does not export gold bars to Greenland or Alaska. Agnico-Eagle sells its production into a global market.

No circumpolar region is capable of producing or marketing things that people in other circumpolar regions want to consume in large quantities — not even cultural products or tourism. This is why no scheduled air service exists between Nuuk and Iqaluit.

At the same time, each circumpolar region is confined with the bounds of its own cultural parochialism. When, for example, have you ever found a copy of Sermitsiaq at your local Northern store?

Besides, the ICC has already answered its big existential question. Like Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, this is an organization that represents organizations, not people. And it will continue to exist for as long as its constituent agencies calculate that it’s in their self-interest to do so.

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