Arctic Council

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The Arctic Council is the premier intergovernmental organization that fosters collaboration, coordination, and interaction among Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities, and other Arctic residents on shared Arctic issues, particularly those related to the region’s environmental preservation and sustainable development.

In order to address concerns like the decline in biodiversity, the melting of the sea ice, plastic pollution, and black carbon, the Arctic Council functions as a consensus-based council.

The History of the Council’s Establishment
  1. The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS), which was established in 1991 as a framework for intergovernmental cooperation on environmental protection initiatives among the Arctic States including Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and the United States, is where the Arctic Council first came into existence.
  2. The AEPS made an effort to engage and consult the indigenous people of the Arctic in order to recognize their claim to their ancient territories.
    • As observers for the AEPS, three Indigenous Peoples Organizations (IPOs) were welcomed: the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), the Saami Council (SC), and the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON).
    • The three IPOs were given the special position of Permanent Participants (PPs) by the Arctic countries as a result of a growing understanding of the unique connection that indigenous peoples have to the Arctic region, giving them an advantage over the other AEPS Observers.
Organisational Structure of the Council
  • The Ottawa Declaration established the Arctic Council, a high-level intergovernmental organization, in 1996 to encourage collaboration, coordination, and contact between the Arctic States as well as between them and with the indigenous peoples and other people who live in the region.
  • The eight circumpolar nations that make up the Council’s membership are charged with protecting the Arctic environment and advancing the economy, social, and cultural well-being, and rights of indigenous peoples, whose groups are regular attendees at council meetings.
  • Secretariat of the Arctic Council In Troms, Norway, the permanent Arctic Council Secretariat officially started operations in 2013.

It was created to support the Arctic Council’s activities in general and to offer administrative capacity, institutional memory, improved communication, and outreach.

  • Ad hoc observer nations, members, and “permanent participants” make up the Council.

Members of the Arctic Council: According to the Ottawa Declaration, the Arctic Council is made up of Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America.

Greenland and the Faroe Islands are represented by Denmark.

Permanent participants:

  • Gwich’in Council International (GCI),
  • The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC),
  • The Aleut International Association (AIA),
  • The Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC)
  • The RAIPN is a Russian organization for indigenous peoples in the north.
  • Council of Saami

Observer status: Along with non-governmental, international, legislative, global, and regional groups that the Council decides can aid in its work, it is open to non-Arctic states. At the twice-yearly Ministerial Meetings, it is authorized by the Council.

  • Arctic Council Observers typically contribute through their participation in Working Groups within the Council.
  • There is no vote privilege for observers in the Council.
  • Thirteen non-Arctic states will have Observer status as of 2022.
  1. Germany, 1998
  2. Netherlands, 1998
  3. Poland, 1998
  4. United Kingdom, 1998
  5. France, 2000
  6. Spain, 2006
  7. China, 2013
  8. India, 2013
  9. Italy, 2013
  10. Japan, 2013
  11. South Korea, 2013
  12. Singapore, 2013
  13. Switzerland, 2017
Standard for Accepting Observers

The following factors will be considered by the Council in determining whether an application for observer status is generally qualified, among others:

  • Accept and support the Arctic Council’s goals as stated in the Ottawa declaration.
  • Recognize the sovereignty, sovereign rights, and authority of the Arctic State in the region.

As a result, India has formally acknowledged the Arctic states’ territorial dominion and sovereign rights.

India has also acknowledged the UNCLOS as the governing body for the Arctic, indicating that the eight Arctic States will hold primary jurisdiction over the continental shelf, maritime passage, and ocean resources.

  • Respect the beliefs, values, cultures, and traditions of the native peoples and other inhabitants of the Arctic.
  • has the political and financial capacity to support the efforts of the Permanent Participants and other Arctic indigenous peoples.
  • have shown that their knowledge and interests in the Arctic are pertinent to the activities of the Arctic Council.
  • have shown a genuine desire and capacity to assist the Arctic Council’s work, notably through collaborations with member nations and Permanent Participants to bring Arctic issues to international decision-making bodies.
Mechanism of the Council

Six Working Groups handle the majority of the Council’s work.

  • The Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) serves as a motivating and bolstering instrument to promote national initiatives to lower emissions and other pollution releases.
  • The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) keeps track on the region’s ecosystems, human populations, and physical environment. It also offers governments scientific guidance as they combat climate change and pollution.
  • Working Group for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF): This group focuses on the preservation of Arctic biodiversity and works to guarantee the longevity of the region’s living resources.
  • Working Group on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR): EPPR strives to safeguard the Arctic ecosystem from the risk or effects of an unintentional release of radioactive materials.
  • The Arctic Council’s actions pertaining to the preservation and wise use of the Arctic maritime environment are centered on the Protection of the Arctic maritime Environment (PAME) Working Group.
  • The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) strives to enhance circumstances for all Arctic communities while advancing sustainable development in the region.
How does the Council Works?
  • Assessments and recommendations made by the Arctic Council are the outcome of research and work done by the Working Groups. With full participation and input from the Permanent Participants, decisions of the Arctic Council are made by consensus among the eight Arctic Council States.
  • Every two years, the Arctic States alternate holding the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Canada (1996–1998) served as the Arctic Council’s first chair.

Iceland will serve as the next Chairman from 2019 to 2021.

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