Today, the Arctic Council celebrates the 20th anniversary!
The Council was established on 19 September 1996, when representatives from the eight Arctic states (Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States) signed the Ottawa Declaration. Six organizations representing Arctic Indigenous peoples got status as Permanent Participants, as well. They include: the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) and the Saami Council. Since then the Arctic Concil continues to be a high level intergovernmental forum to enhance cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States with the active involvement of Arctic indigenous peoples and other Arctic inhabitants.
The Council has produced many landmark studies on topics important to this unique region, including climate change, environmental pollutants, shipping, tourism, safety and search-and-rescue, biodiversity of flora and fauna, oil pollution response, human health, indigenous languages, and much more. It has also provided a forum for the negotiation of two binding agreements among the eight Arctic states. The first, signed in 2011, addresses search-and-rescue in the Arctic. The second, signed in 2013, addresses oil pollution preparedness.
The Arctic Council has facilitated the creation of additional structures for regional cooperation and interaction such as the University of the Arctic, the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) forum, the Arctic Coast Guard Forum, the Arctic Economic Council (AEC), and the Arctic Offshore Regulators Forum (AORF).