Arctic Council: Notes for the UPSC Exam

Arctic Council is an initiative of the Government of Finland where spokespersons from the 8 Arctic Countries met in Finland, to discuss cooperative strategies to safeguard the Arctic environment.

This is an important topic for all IAS exam aspirants.

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How was the Arctic Council formed?

The first step towards the formation of the Council occurred in 1991 when the eight Arctic countries signed the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS). The Ottawa Declaration established the Arctic Council as a forum for promoting cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic states, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on issues such as sustainable development and environmental protection. The Arctic Council has conducted studies on climate change, oil and gas, and Arctic shipping.

In 2011, the Council member states concluded the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, the first binding treaty concluded under the Council’s auspices

When was the Arctic Council formed?

The Arctic Council was created with the signing of the Ottawa Declaration on 19 September 1996 in Canada. India has approved the observer status at the Kiruna Ministerial Meeting in 2013.

What is the goal of the Arctic Council?

The main goal of Arctic Council is to promote various levels of cooperation, coordination among the Arctic States, indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on the common Arctic to discuss and resolve issues on sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.

The major focus areas of the Arctic Council are

  • Environment and climate change
  • Biodiversity
  • Oceans
  • The indigenous Arctic peoples

Who are the members of the Arctic Council?

The members of the Arctic Council are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.

At the 2013 Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna, Sweden, the European Union (EU) requested full observer status. It was not granted, mostly because the members do not agree on the EU ban on hunting seals.

Pending observer states are the European Union and Turkey.

The role of observers was re-evaluated, as were the criteria for admission. As a result, the distinction between permanent and ad hoc observers was dropped

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