Arctic Council (AC)
Arctic Council (AC) – an international intergovernmental regional structure aimed at promoting cooperation in the sphere of environmental protection and sustainable development support in the circumpolar regions. It was established on September 19, 1996, in Ottawa (Canada) where the representatives of eight Arctic states (Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Russia, the USA, Finland, and Sweden) signed the Declaration of the Establishment of the Arctic Council as an intergovernmental forum for promoting cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic states. It convenes once in 2 years on a ministerial level. Along with the abovementioned Arctic states, the permanent panelists of the forum are the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the Aleut International Association, Saami Council, the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North and the Far East, Arctic Athapascan Council, and Gwich’in Council International.
In compliance with the Constituent Declaration, the Arctic Council also provides an observer status. It can belong to non-Arctic states, intergovernmental and interparliamentary organizations, and universal and regional organizations including nongovernmental ones. They may only provide scientific, financial, or conceptual assistance to the working groups of the Council. The Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council reads that its main aims are promoting cooperation and coordination of interaction between the Arctic states regarding the Arctic problems (excluding the military security matters), mostly within the realm of environmental protection and sustainable development, the monitoring and coordination of the programs of the Arctic environment protection. The programs of Arctic Environment Prevention Strategies (AEPS) are now under the authority of the Arctic Council. These programs are: Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), the Conservation of Arctic flora and fauna (CAFF), the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME), Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR), and Sustainable Development and Utilization (SDU). The eight Arctic states have an exclusive prerogative of deciding over the Council work. The first ministerial session of the Arctic Council took place in 1998 in Iqaluit (Canada), the second in 2000 in Barrow (Alaska, USA), the third in 2002 in Inari (Finland), the fourth in 2002 in Reykjavik (Iceland), the fifth in 2007 in Salekhard (Russia), the sixth in 2009 in Tromsø (Norway), the seventh in 2011 in Nuuk (Greenland, Denmark), the eighth in 2013 in Kiruna (Sweden), the ninth in 2015 in Iqaluit (Canada).
Among the observers are Great Britain, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, France, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), United Nations Environment Commission for Europe (UNECE), the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, the Northern Forum, the World Wildlife Fund, the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission, Advisory Committee on Protection of the Sea (ACOPS), Association of World Reindeer Herders, Circumpolar Conservation Union, International Arctic Social Sciences Association, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Union for Circumpolar Health, and International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Current issues of the Council and presessional preparations are tackled by the working body, the Senior Arctic Officials (SAO), which holds panel sessions three or four times a year according to the statutory regulations.