The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states, Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular, on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. The work of the Council is primarily carried out in six Working Groups:
- The Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) acts as a strengthening and supporting mechanism to encourage national actions to reduce emissions and other releases of pollutants.
- The 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.
- The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF) addresses the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, working to ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s living resources.
- The Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPPR) works to protect the Arctic environment from the threat or impact of an accidental release of pollutants or radionuclides.
- The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Group is the focal point of the Arctic Council’s activities related to the protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment.
- The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) works to advance sustainable development in the Arctic and to improve the conditions of Arctic communities as a whole.
Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States
Aleut International Association (AIA), Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC), Gwich'in Council International (GCI), Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), Saami Council (SC)
- States: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, People’s Republic of China, Italian Republic, Republic of Korea, Republic of Singapore, Republic of India
- Non-Govermental Organizations: Advisory Committee on Protection of the Seas (ACOPS), Arctic Institute of North America (AINA)—Formerly Arctic Cultural Gateway (ACG), Association of World Reindeer Herders (AWRH), Circumpolar Conservation Union (CCU), International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA), International Union for Circumpolar Health (IUCH), International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), Northern Forum (NF), University of the Arctic (UArctic), World Wide Fund for Nature-Global Arctic Program (WWF)
The chairship of the Council rotates among the eight member states, each state holding the position for two years at a time. Norway is currently holding the Arctic Council Chairship (2023-2025).
The Arctic Economic Council (AEC) is an independent organization that facilitates Arctic business-to-business activities and responsible economic development through the sharing of best practices, technological solutions, standards, and other information. It works closely with the Arctic Council membership, providing advice and a business perspective on specific areas of cooperation in the circumpolar region. Our members represent a wide range of businesses operating in the Arctic—from mining and shipping companies to reindeer herding and Aboriginal Economic Development Corporations. This mix of interests ensures that our work is carried out in an inclusive and sustainable manner.
- The eight Arctic States: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States
- The six Permanent Participants: Aleut International Association (AIA), Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC), Gwich'in Council International (GCI), Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), Saami Council (SC)
Cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region was launched in 1993 on two levels: intergovernmental (Barents Euro-Arctic Council; BEAC) and interregional (Barents Regional Council; BRC), with sustainable development as the overall objective. The region was an area of military confrontation during the Cold War. The underlying premise was that close cooperation secures political long-term stability and reduces possible tensions. This objective has already been successfully achieved. The Barents cooperation has fostered a new sense of unity and closer contact among the people of the region which is an excellent basis for further progress. On 18 September 2023, the MFA of Russia declared Russia´s official withdrawal from the council - read the statement.
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia (withdraw from the council on 18 September 2023), Sweden and the European Commission. The Barents Region includes the following counties or their equivalents
- In Finland: Kainuu, Lapland and Oulu Region (North Karelia was granted an observer status in 2008)
- In Norway: Finnmark, Nordland and Troms
- In Russia: Arkhangelsk, Karelia, Komi, Murmansk and Nenets (withdraw from the council on 18 September 2023)
- In Sweden: Norrbotten and Västerbotten
Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Region
- Sami (in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia)
- Nenets (in Russia)
- Veps (in Russia)
The chair of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council rotates between Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Norway took over the BEAC Chairmanship from Sweden at the 17th BEAC Ministerial Session in Umeå, Sweden, on October 3, 2019. The next chair of the BEAC will be Finland (2021-2023).Website: http://www.beac.st/
The Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region is a biennial conference for parliamentarians representing the eight Arctic countries and the European Parliament. The first Parliamentary Conference concerning Arctic cooperation was held in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1993. The next conference will be held in Russia in 2016.One of the main priorities of the Standing Committee was originally to support the establishment of the Arctic Council. Since then the Standing Committee has worked actively to promote the work of the Council and participates in the meetings of the Arctic Council as an observer. Today the Committee is engaged in topics such as shipping possibilities, education and research, human development and climate change.
Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, U.S. and European Parliament
The conference also includes:
Aleut International Association (AIA), Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC), Gwich'in Council International (GCI), Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), Saami Council (SC)
- States: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, People’s Republic of China, Italian Republic, Japan, Republic of Korea, Republic of Singapore, Republic of India
- Non-Governmental Organizations: Advisory Committee on Protection of the Seas (ACOPS), Arctic Institute of North America (AINA)—Formerly Arctic Cultural Gateway (ACG), Association of World Reindeer Herders (AWRH), Circumpolar Conservation Union (CCU), International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA), International Union for Circumpolar Health (IUCH), International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), Northern Forum (NF), University of the Arctic (UArctic), World Wide Fund for Nature-Global Arctic Program (WWF)
The Agreement on the European Economic Area, which entered into force on 1 January 1994, brings together the EU Member States and the three EEA EFTA States—Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway—in a single market, referred to as the “Internal Market”.The EEA Agreement also states that when a country becomes a member of the European Union, it shall also apply to become party to the EEA Agreement (Article 128), thus leading to an enlargement of the EEA. The EEA Agreement provides for the inclusion of EU legislation covering the four freedoms—the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital—throughout the 31 EEA States. In addition, the Agreement covers cooperation in other important areas such as research and development, education, social policy, the environment, consumer protection, tourism and culture, collectively known as “flanking and horizontal” policies. The Agreement guarantees equal rights and obligations within the Internal Market for citizens and economic operators in the EEA.
The OCTs are 25 countries and territories, which have special links with any of the Member States: Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Their location, as well as their natural wealth, grants them significant advantages as does their role as European outposts in their respective regions. At the same time, they are all vulnerable to external shocks and are in general dependent on a narrow economic base that mostly revolves around services. In this light, the objective of the partnership with the EU consists in enhancing the OCTs’ competitiveness, strengthening their resilience, reducing their economic and environmental vulnerability and promoting cooperation between them and other partners. Specific arrangements are therefore established regarding trade and trade-related cooperation, while financial cooperation is foreseen in order to assist OCTs in their sustainable development.
Greenland plus Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St-Eustatius, St-Maarten, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis et Futuna, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, Mayotte, Anguilla, Montserrat, Turks et Caicos, Pitcairn, Falkland Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
The EU is a unique economic and political partnership between 28 European countries that together cover much of the continent. The EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: the idea being that countries who trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict. The result was the European Economic Community (EEC), created in 1958, and initially increasing economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Since then, a huge single market has been created and continues to develop towards its full potential. What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organization spanning policy areas, from development aid to environment. A name change from the EEC to the European Union (EU) in 1993 reflected this. The EU is based on the rule of law: everything that it does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by all member countries. These binding agreements set out the EU’s goals in its many areas of activity.
Main Institutions of the EU
- The European Parliament is the EU’s law-making body. It is directly elected by EU voters every 5 years. The last elections were in May 2014.
- Council of the European Union: Together with the European Parliament, the Council is the main decision-making body of the EU.
- The European Commission is the EU’s politically independent executive arm. It is alone responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
28 EU member states, of which Arctic countries are: Finland, Sweden and Denmark (but with the exclusion of Greenland and Faroe)
The G8, otherwise known as the Group of Eight, is an assembly of world leaders who meet annually to discuss global issues. Each year, the G8 holds a Leaders’ Summit, in which Heads of State and Government of member countries meet to discuss and attempt to reconcile global issues. Although the G8 is best known for its annual summits, it works throughout the year to tackle important contemporary topics such as the economy and climate change. The G8 discusses and creates global policies. However, adherence to these policies is not obligatory, and other countries can decide whether or not to obey.
The heads of government from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The European Union is also represented at meetings by both the president of the European Commission and the leader of the country that has European Union presidency. The Russian Federation is currently suspended from the G8 over annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Ilulissat, “Arctic 5”
“The five coastal states currently cooperate closely in the Arctic Ocean with each other and with other interested parties. This cooperation includes the collection of scientific data concerning the continental shelf, the protection of the marine environment and other scientific research. We will work to strengthen this cooperation, which is based on mutual trust and transparency, inter alia, through timely exchange of data and analyses.” (THE ILULISSAT DECLARATION, ARCTIC OCEAN CONFERENCE, ILULISSAT, GREENLAND, 27-29 MAY 2008)
Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States of America
Nora (Nordic Atlantic Cooperation) is an intergovernmental organization under the Nordic Council of Ministers. The NORA region includes the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and Coastal Norway (the 9 coastal counties of Norway, from Finnmark in the north to Rogaland in the south). The NORA countries are associated by their geographical location and by shared characteristics, common challenges and historical, institutional and cultural links. NORA’s goal is to contribute to the creation of a vital and dynamic North Atlantic region, characterized by a strong and sustainable economy. To reach this goal, NORA supports collaboration between businesses and research and development organizations in the region. NORA’s main objectives and focus areas are set out in NORA’s strategic programme. The Nordic Council of Ministers, supplemented by national grants from the four member countries, finances NORA. The NORA committee, which is comprised of twelve members, three from each of the countries in the NORA region, decides the main focus areas for NORA’s activities. These focus areas are set out in multiple-year strategic programmes. NORA’s main secretariat is located in Tórshavn, the Faroe Islands. In addition, regional contact persons are located in Iceland, Greenland, Western Norway and Northern Norway.
Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and Coastal Norway (the 9 coastal countries of Norway, from Finnmark in the north to Rogaland in the south
NATO is an alliance of countries from Europe and North America. It provides a unique link between these two continents for consultation and cooperation in the field of defence and security, and the conduct of multinational crisis-management operations.NATO’s essential purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.
NATO promotes democratic values and encourages consultation and cooperation on defence and security issues to build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military capacity needed to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty—NATO’s founding treaty—or under a UN mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.
NATO is committed to the principle that an attack against one or several members is considered as an attack against all. This is the principle of collective defence, which is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. So far, Article 5 has been invoked once—in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
31 states, of which Arctic countries are: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and U.S.
The Nordic Council of Ministers is the official body for intergovernmental cooperation in the Nordic Region. Overall responsibility for cooperation lies with the prime ministers, but in practice, it is delegated to the ministers for Nordic cooperation. The Nordic Council of Ministers was founded in 1971 and, despite its name, actually consists of several individual councils of ministers. Nordic ministers for specific policy areas meet in their respective council of ministers a couple of times a year. There are currently 10 constellations of councils of ministers for specific policy areas as well as the council of ministers for the ministers for cooperation. Decisions in all of the councils of ministers must be unanimous. The Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, which is held for a period of one year, rotates between the five Nordic countries. The country holding the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers draws up a programme to guide Nordic cooperation during the year. Matters are prepared and followed up by the various committees of senior officials, which consist of civil servants from the member countries.
Member countries and territories
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have been members of the Nordic Council of Ministers since 1971. In addition, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland have also had increased representation and more prominent roles in the Nordic Council of Ministers, with the same representation as the other member countries.
The Northern Dimension is a joint policy between EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland. The ND Policy was initiated in 1999 and renewed in 2006. The policy aims at providing a framework to:
- promote dialogue and concrete cooperation;
- strengthen stability, well-being and intensified economic cooperation;
- promote economic integration, competitiveness and sustainable development in Northern Europe.
EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland
- EU Member States in their national capacity
- Regional Councils, the Arctic Council (AC), the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC), the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM)
- International Financial Institutions (IFIs), e.g. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) as well as other financial institutions
- Universities, research centres and the business community
- Canada and the United States as observers
- Belarus participates in practical cooperation
The Northern Forum is a non-profit, international organization composed of sub-national or regional governments from eight northern countries. Northern regions share characteristics that set them apart from other areas of the world. These include:
- Economies based upon the extraction of natural resources
- Lack of internal capital resources
- Limited infrastructural development
- Harsh climates and vulnerable ecosystems
- Diverse and relatively strong indigenous cultures
- Sparse populations
Such complex factors create unique challenges for regional Governors and other executives. From throughout the North, the Northern Forum brings these leaders together to address common political, environmental and economic issues.
Akureyri, Gangwon Province (South Korea), Chukotskiy AO, Kamchatskiy Krai, Khanty, Mansiysky AO-Yugra, Krasnoyarsky Krai (Chair), Magadanskaya Oblast, Nenetsky AO, Primorsky Krai, Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Yamalo-Nenetskiy AO, Murmanskaya Oblast
The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945. It is currently made up of 193 Member States. The mission and work of the United Nations are guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter. Due to the powers vested in its Charter and its unique international character, the United Nations can take action on th issues confronting humanity in the 21st century, such as peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, food production, and more. The UN also provides a forum for its members to express their views in the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and other bodies and committees. By enabling dialogue between its members, and by hosting negotiations, the Organization has become a mechanism for governments to find areas of agreement and solve problems together.
Under the United Nation (UN) Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions. The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security. The Security Council also recommends to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and the admission of new Members to the United Nations. And, together with the General Assembly, it elects the judges of the International Court of Justice.
Members—the Council is composed of 15 Members:
- five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States,
- and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly (with end of term date): Belgium (2020) Côte d’Ivoire (2019) Dominican Republic (2020) Equatorial Guinea (2019) Germany (2020) Indonesia (2020) Kuwait (2019) Peru (2019) Poland (2019) South Africa (2020)
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was set up in 1947 by ECOSOC.UNECE’s major aim is to promote pan-European economic integration. To do so, it brings together 56 countries located in the European Union, non-EU Western and Eastern Europe, South-East Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and North America. All these countries dialogue and cooperate under the aegis of UNECE on economic and sectoral issues. However, all interested United Nations member States may participate in the work of UNECE. Over 70 international professional organizations and other non-governmental organizations take part in UNECE activities.
The special cultural and geographic conditions of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland were subject to political discussions of the early 1980s. Subsequently, the West Nordic Countries agreed to establish a joint parliamentary organisation. The chief aim would be to cooperate on common problems and to conduct positive and constructive cooperation regarding West Nordic, or North Atlantic, issues with the Nordic Council as well as with other organisations.The West Nordic Parliamentarian Council of Cooperation was formed in 1985.In 1997 the name was changed to the West Nordic Council as the member parliaments approved the Council’s present Charter. The parliaments of the Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands each appoint six representatives to the West Nordic Council—i.e. a total of 18 members.
Main Objectives of the West Nordic Council
- To promote West Nordic (North Atlantic) interests
- To be guardians of North Atlantic resources and North Atlantic culture and to help promoting West Nordic interests through the West Nordic governments—not least with regards to the serious issues of resource management, pollution etc.
- To follow up on the governments’ West Nordic cooperation
- To work with the Nordic Council and to be the West Nordic link in Nordic cooperation
- To act as the parliamentary link for inter-West Nordic organisations, including Arctic parliamentary cooperation
Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland