Greetings from the land of the midnight sun!I am spending six weeks at the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland, Finland's premier research institute. The Centre hosts mostly scientists, but there are a few attorneys here working on applying international law and the law of the sea to new and developing issues in the Arctic. Until the end of July, I will be helping them prepare several articles on how climate change and technology are changing how Finland and the Arctic states are handling the influx of human activity through soft and hard law measures and regional collaboration.
Rovaniemi, the city where I am located, is an interesting town with a rich history. For thousands of years, Arctic Sami tribes gathered in and around this area as a hub of trading and reindeer herding. The buildings which sprung up to support that activity and the Europeans from the south were all destroyed by retreating Nazi forces in 1944. Much of the city that exists today is thus 'modern,' but its location and population is still seeped in historical tradition and culture. My first weeks here were enjoyable. It’s daylight all the time, which allowed me to walk around and explore the entire town. The best part about living here is the surrounding nature, but I am a little unprepared to trek out into the wilderness at this point. There are some good nearby hikes that I have not tried yet, but I have already had some very Finnish experiences at a sauna and with the sight of reindeer grazing at the side of the road. I have enjoyed the midsummer holiday with the traditional bonfire as celebration. The work I am doing here also is interesting. The head of the Arctic Centre is an expert on international norms of environmental law in the Arctic, and material that I am working on comes from this desire to enact holistic ecological protections for this changing marine area. For the most part, the Arctic states have come together to enact some measures to deal with shipping, fishing, and search and rescue, and as someone interested in international law, it is the process of these negotiations and agreements which I find as promising as their provisions. I am really enjoying participating in a field where disparate parties find success through working together and hope to build on their achievements to codify environmental protection and sustainability.