UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

International cooperation in the Alaska-British Columbia-Yukon Region Gray, Glenn Thomas


The primary purpose of this thesis is to investigate transboundary cooperation in the Alaska-British Columbia-Yukon Region (ABCY Region). The study focuses on political relations about environmental and natural resource issues. It is argued that there are more appropriate means for cooperative planning in the transborder region than presently employed. Current relations between the three jurisdictions will be evaluated followed by recommendations for improving them. Government cooperation occurs through a complex network of federal, sub-national, regional and local channels. International conflicts in the region have occurred throughout recorded history but means addressing them have changed throughout time. Despite some persistent problems, Alaska-Canadian relations are for the most part amicable. The federal governments have historically had a major presence in Alaska and the Yukon while B.C. manages most of its land. Resource economies of all three jurisdictions follow cycles of booms and busts. Subsistence hunting and fishing and government payments help soften the busts. Access, distances to markets, power shortages, and poor resource markets provide substantial economic dilemmas. International institutions have been developed for a wide spectrum of issues yet few of them are capable of addressing the relationships between resource sectors. Three notable institutions have been used to address multi-sector issues: the Trialteral-Heads-of-Government (THOG) meetings, legislative exchanges, and meetings between Juneau and Whitehorse. Institutions for cooperation are generally Insufficient, they are short-lived, and cooperation occurs on an ad hoc basis. Because most of the region is undeveloped, an excellent opportunity exists to design institutions capable of anticipating and mitigating future environmental and land use problems early on. It is recommended that a proactive, integrated approach involving regional and local interests be instituted. Relations need to be structured enough to encourage regular interaction yet flexible enough to respond to change. The relationship could be strengthened by augmenting existing institutions and creating a few new ones. It is recommended that general guidelines for cooperation be developed. Annual THOG meetings should be supplemented by meetings of a coordinating committee and sectoral subcommittees. Communication between on-the-ground managers should be encouraged. Conflict resolution procedures should also be considered to assure timely response to problems. A major recommendation of this thesis is the creation of international regional conferences. These meetings would provide a foundation for future negotiations about the major issues in each of five sub-regions along the border.

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