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Arctic Council


Name: Arctic Council 
Year of foundation: 1996

Headquarters: Tromsø, Norway

ARCTIC COUNCIL documents: go to page

ARCTIC COUNCIL official web site: go to page


Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region



The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum created with the aim to contribute more effectively to environment protection of the Arctic region, thus achieving sustainable socio-economic development.

Member states

The Artic Council has 8 members states, namely:

 Canada          Finland        Iceland    Norway

 Denmark     Russia      Sweden      United States


In the late eighties, the need to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the Arctic region led Canada to promote the start of a regular dialogue among the countries of the Arctic Circle.  The first goal was the signing of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) in 1991. Then in 1996, in Ottawa, the governamentsdecided to create the Arctic Council.
The Forum includes among its members not only the states but also the indigenous communities of the area:

- the Inuit Circumpolar Conference,
- the Saami Council,
- the Russian Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North,
- the Aleut International Association,
- the Gwich’in Council International,
- the Arctic Athabaskan Council.


The intergovernmental Arctic forum has undoubtedly based its action strategy on natural and human resource protection as a key step in ensuring effective political, economic and social welfare to the peoples of the region. In pursuing its objectives, the Council has carried out action plans among its Member States aimed at strengthening inter-regional dialogue by promoting joint initiatives with the Nordic Council and Nordic Forum.

Structure and decision-making procedures

Ministerial Meetings

Held every two years, these meetings are usually attended by foreign ministers or ministers of Nordic affairs or environmental ministers with the aim to evaluate the results achieved by the co-operation process and revise its objectives.

Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) Meetings 

Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) are high level representatives of each member states. They meet every six months to ensure the development of Council activities in accordance with the guidelines laid down by governments.
Indigenous communities participate in the political meetings headed by the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat (IPS) based in Copenhagen.

Working Groups

Working Groups are in charge of carrying out the programs and projects mandated by the Arctic Council Ministers. The working groups consist of a Chairman, a Standing Committee formed by representatives of national government agencies and indigenous organisations and a Secretariat.  There are 6 working groups, namely:


- Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP),
- Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF),
- Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR),
- Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME),
- Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG),
- Arctic Contaminants Action Programme (ACAP).

The AMAP, CAFF, EPPR and PAME had already been started with the Environmental Protection Strategy signed in 1991.


The Secretariat, handled by the rotating Presidency, carries out the task of defining the working agenda of the meetings of Senior Officials and providing documents and reports related to decisions taken by the Council.

Decision-making within ARCTIC COUNCIL

All the decisions of the Council and its subsidiary bodies are taken by consensus.



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