February 5, 2010 § 1 Comment
This weekend, the G7’s finance ministers are gathering in Iqaluit, in the Canadian Eastern Arctic, to discuss the fallout from last year’s global economic meltdown, as well as how best to prevent the same from happening again. The meeting comes amidst questions about the on-going relevancy fo the G7 in the face of the creation of the G20 to handle the global economy.
That the meeting is being held in the Arctic is both interesting and significant, as Canada is currently attempting to bolster its claim to various lands and waters in the Arctic, as are the US, Russia, Norway, and Denmark. That the G7 is meeting in the Canadian Arctic is surely no coincidence.
Canada is also caught up in a sort of new Cold War with Russia, its neighbour across the North Pole, in the Arctic. Russia has just announced it is going to spend another $50 million USD on hydrographic and geophysics research along the Arctic Ocean bed. This comes as Canada, Russia, and the other Arctic nations face a UN-mandated deadline to register their claims to the Arctic according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Norway did so over a year ago, whilst the other 3 Arctic nations. The 5 Arctic nations face staggered deadlines, Norway’s was last year, Russia’s this year, Canada’s in 2013. Denmark has a claim to the Arctic through its possession of Greenland.
Under UNCLOS, panels of scientists will assess the validity of uncontested claims in the Arctic, but the 5 nations themselves will sort out their own disagreements when it comes to disputed claims.
For example, Canada’s mapping effort is focussed on proving that 2 massive under-water mountain chains, the Alpha and Lomonosov, are geologically connected to North America. If this is indeed the case, not only will Canada benefit, but so, too, would Denmark and the US. Hence, whilst Canada is carrying out the majority of the mapping work, it periodically co-operates with the Danes and Americans. Meanwhile, both Canada and the US will come to loggerheads over the Beaufort Sea and its oil & gas reserves, whilst Canada, Denmark, and Russia are expected to have competing claims to the territory around the North Pole. And then there is the battle over the Northwest Passage. Canada hopes to prove the waters within the Arctic Archipelago belong to it, meaning the Passage would be Canadian. This would limit access to the Passage as a shipping chanel as global warming causes the ice in the passage to melt.
Cross-posted at Current Intelligence.
January 25, 2010 § Leave a comment
I spent a chunk of my weekend reading theory on diaspora and transnationalism, as I begin the process of writing the Introduction to the book, so these topics were fresh in my mind when I read The Gazette today. Today, here in Montréal, a group of global bigwigs, including US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, as well as foreign ministers from Canada, Japan, Brazil, and a hanful of other nations, plus the UN, are meeting with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive to discuss rebuilding plans for Haiti.
Upon arriving in Montréal yesterday and meeting with Québec Premier Jean Charest, Bellerive told reports that the Haitian diaspora is fundamental to the re-building of his nation:
We need a direct, firm and continuous support from them. This cataclysm has amplified the movement (of people) out of Haiti, unfortunately. We will have to work hard to encourage them to come back to Haiti…I’m very happy that the help has now arrived and is being distributed, because we had a lot of logistical problems in my country.
In other words, the Haitian diaspora is a transnational one, as it stretches across several nations in addition to Haiti (including Canada and the US), and a dynamic relationship exists between Haiti and its diaspora, diasporic Haitians have not just settled in places like Montréal and New York City, they also continue to send money back to Haiti, establish charities and trusts, and so on. In the days since the earthquake there, and its aftershocks, I’ve been struck by the actions of prominent diasporic Haitians, such as Indianapolis Colts’ receiver Pierre Garçon, former Montréal Canadiens’ tough-guy Georges Laraques, Philadelphia 76ers’ Samuel Dalembert, and musicians such as Wyclef Jean and the Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne, amongst others. They, along with less-well-known Haitians, have been working feverishly raising funds, visiting Haiti, helping in rescue efforts and so on. Indeed, the Haitian diaspora has been instrumental in not just raising consciousness, but in keeping Haiti in the global consciousness beyond the initial burst of news of the earthquake, to work towards a rebuilding plan for a devastated nation.
Bellerive’s recognition of that is impressive, as national leaders tend not to recognise the importance of their nations’ diasporas, even in times of trouble. And yet, transnational diasporas are central to the homeland nation, as the Haitian example makes clear.