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Arctic Council

Topics covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Arctic Council


What to study?

For prelims and mains: Composition of Arctic Council, membership, objective, subordinate bodies and significance.


Context: At 11th Arctic Council ministerial meeting held at Rovaniemi in Finland, India was re-elected as an observer to intergovernmental forum Arctic Council.

About Arctic council:

1996 – Ottawa declaration.

It is an Intergovernmental forum which addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and people living in the Arctic region

It is Not a treaty-based international organization but rather an international forum that operates on the basis of consensus.

The decisions, recommendations or guidelines of the Arctic Council are non-enforceable and strictly the prerogative of the individual state.

Its mandate explicitly excludes military security.


Organization structure:

  1. a) Chairmanship: rotated every two years once
  2. b) Secretariat:
  • Rotated biennially with the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council
  • It supports the Chair of the Arctic Council
  • It manages logistics related to the biennial member states’ meetings and the more frequent SAO meetings.
  1. c) SAO ( Senior Arctic Official): a government representative, usually from a member states’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs. SAO guides and monitors Arctic Council activities in accordance with the decisions and instructions of the Arctic Council Foreign Ministers.


Who takes part?

The Ottawa Declaration lists the following countries as Members of the Arctic Council: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.

In addition, six organizations representing Arctic indigenous peoples have status as Permanent Participants. The category of Permanent Participant was created to provide for active participation and full consultation with the Arctic indigenous peoples within the Council. They include: the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North and the Saami Council.

Observer status in the Arctic Council is open to non-Arctic states, along with inter-governmental, inter-parliamentary, global, regional and non-governmental organizations that the Council determines can contribute to its work. Arctic Council Observers primarily contribute through their engagement in the Council at the level of Working Groups.



Arctic Council working groups:

  • Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP)— strengthening and supporting mechanism to encourage national actions to reduce emissions and other releases of pollutants.
  • Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) — monitors the Arctic environment, ecosystems and human populations, and provides scientific advice to support governments as they tackle pollution and adverse effects of climate change.
  • Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) — addresses the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, working to ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s living resources.
  • Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR)— protect the Arctic environment from the threat or impact of an accidental release of pollutants or radionuclides.
  • Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) –protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment.
  • Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) — works to advance sustainable development in the Arctic and to improve the conditions of Arctic communities as a whole


Sources: The Hindu.