Arctic Council: history of creation, activity
The Arctic is a mysterious part of our planet. Her "cap" of snow and ice hides a lot of the unknown. This territory is huge, important in the life of the entire planet. To address issues related to the Arctic, the Arctic Council was established in 1996 by the international community.
What is the organization created for?
Global problems should be solved by joint efforts of all states. It is for this reason that in 1994 Finland proposed the creation of the Arctic Council of countries whose territories include this northern region. The first Parliamentary Conference devoted to the problems of the Arctic and called upon to unite the Arctic states, was held a year earlier, in 1993 in Reykjavik at the initiative of Finland. 1996 is considered the official year of the Arctic Council. The purpose of creating such an organization is to promote cooperation, coordination of interaction between the Arctic countries, the original peoples and other inhabitants of the Arctic regions, environmental protection and development of this particular region of the planet.
Finding a common language in solving many very complex issues is the task of the participants, members and observers of the International Arctic Forum. By the way, the forum format was chosen for such an activity. It provides an opportunity for open discussion and search for solutions by common efforts, allows all participants to work without confrontation on the basis of mutual respect and mutual understanding. Awareness of common interests is the basis of the work of the Union.
The Council of the Arctic States, as an official international organization, was first assembled in 1996. Then, on September 19, the so-called Ottawa Declaration was adopted - the main document on the establishment of the Arctic Council. It sets out the goals with which the Council is created, its composition, permanent participants, the status of observers - countries that are not Arctic regions, the principles on which the forum’s activities are based. The Arctic Council consists of the countries of the arctic region:
- Kingdom of Denmark;
- Kingdom of Norway;
- Russian Federation;
- Republic of Finland;
- Kingdom of Sweden.
These states make up the G-8 (A8). Participation is voluntary. Solving issues requires the joint work of all states that have territories in the Arctic.
What is the organization created for?
The main rules and theses of the work of the Arctic Council are spelled out in the Declaration adopted at the first meeting in 1996. The Council works for the following purposes:
- to ensure the well-being of residents of the Arctic;
- implement the idea of sustainable development of the region;
- protect the natural complex of the region.
Each meeting of the Arctic Council is a high-level forum that discusses the implementation of tasks and plans for the future. The activities of the Council within its working groups are of a scientific and research nature. Specialists from different areas from different countries conduct research, monitoring, draw conclusions on the results obtained and constitute resolutions relating to many spheres of human activity both in the Arctic and throughout the world.
Special work is carried out by expert groups. It comes down to international releases that give advice on how to solve many issues.
How does the board work?
The International Arctic Council is a complex of interacting parties. Of these, from among the member countries, in accordance with the established procedure, the Chairman is appointed for a period of 2 years. In 2017-2019, the Arctic Council is chaired by Finland, replacing the United States.
The forum includes cooperation with regular participants who are representatives of indigenous peoples of the arctic regions. Officially they are registered as members of the Arctic Council:
- Aleut International Association.
- Arctic Attack Council.
- Inuit Circumpolar Conference.
- International Council of Gvichin.
- Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East.
- Saami Union.
The role of the permanent participants consists in a broad discussion and decision-making of the issues of the forum, supporting the interests of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic regions.
A wide range of issues resolves the Arctic Council. Observers of this international forum, according to the declaration of 1996, can be elected from among the countries outside the arctic zone. It can be global, intergovernmental, non-governmental, inter-parliamentary, regional organizations that participate in the work of working groups.Such observers are:
- World Wide Fund for Nature's Arctic Program.
- World Reindeer Herders Association.
- World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
- World Conservation Union.
- OSPAR Commission.
- Consultative Committee for the Protection of the Seas.
- Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic countries.
- International Committee of the Red Cross.
- International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.
- National Geographic Society.
- Oceana organization.
- United Nations Environment Program.
- United Nations Development Program.
- North Council.
- Northern Forum.
- University of the Arctic.
With an interval of two years, meetings of the Arctic Council are held, in which the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Council’s States participate. The Committee of Senior Officials of the Council, consisting of ambassadors of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the countries participating in A8, meets and meets once every six months.
In 2013, the Arctic Council Secretariat was established. The purpose of the creation of the administrative body were:
- administrative capacity;
- maintaining institutional memory;
- expanding outreach activities;
- providing competent support in all areas of the Arctic Council.
In addition to working events, there are various competitions for young people, talented people. The themes of such a creative activity of the Council are different, but inevitably subject to one area - the Arctic.
What is not included in the functions of the Council?
The Arctic Council has no program budget, it is not a commercial organization. All programs that are implemented with the help of this organization are funded by Arctic states, as well as other countries, if desired and necessary. Created documents, resolutions adopted by the Council have the character of recommendations, but whether or not to fulfill them depends on the wishes and capabilities of the member countries and member countries. A separate item in the Ottawa Declaration states that the Arctic Council does not deal with military security issues. It is an exclusively peaceful organization whose activity is aimed at creation, and not at destruction or confrontation.
Each direction has its own team
Each meeting of the Arctic Council is held in the form of a forum, and its decisions are a unanimous opinion reached by consensus between and the member countries.The main functions of this international organization are working groups in six areas:
- Arctic Pollution Working Group (ACAP). Provides support to the activities of states related to the reduction of harmful emissions and pollutants.
- Working Group on the Implementation of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP). Conducts monitoring, systematization of the Arctic ecosystem to prevent changes in climatic conditions.
- Working Group on the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF). The main area of work - the preservation of the Arctic biodiversity.
- Working Group on Prevention, Preparedness and Emergency Situations (EPPR). It protects the Arctic from the threat or impact of harmful and radioactive substances.
- Working Group on the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME). Coordination work of the Arctic Council in the protection and rational use of the marine environment of the natural area.
- Working Group on Sustainable Development (SDWG). The main theme of the work is improving the living conditions of the indigenous people of the Arctic, as well as ensuring the stability of the development of the region.
In addition to the main working groups, if necessary, groups are created to solve specific actual problems. For example, in 2016–2017, the Expert Group is working on the Framework Document for Action to intensify the reduction of black soot and methane emissions. It is the expert associations within the Arctic Light that allow us to see the problem more specifically and look for ways to solve it by joint efforts based on the results obtained by the experts. In the course of the forum all new questions are opened that require finding solutions. Experts and invited speakers, scholars and observers express their opinions on the questions posed, propose certain solutions to certain problems. At the meeting of working, expert and target groups are widely used multimedia capabilities, interactive ways of presenting information.
The countries of the Arctic Council are paying particular attention to the climate of this particular region. The main problem is the pollution of the Arctic and global warming. These negative factors affect everywhere - on the entire planet as a whole and on the life of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic countries.The Council’s working group concludes that the melting of Arctic glaciers is faster and larger than expected. As follows from the conclusions of the expert group, in the coming half a century in the summer months the ice will almost completely come off, which will have a negative impact not only on the Arctic and Arctic regions, but also on the entire Globe.
The Arctic Council calls on the international community to jointly stop global warming, climate change and the pollution of the region. Concepts are developed for solving specific environmental and climate problems by special expert and target groups of the Council. Some solutions proposed by expert and working groups in various issues suggest different scenarios, even unexpected and swift. The exchange of concepts for adaptation to climate change is held at meetings of the Council, working groups and posted on training sites and social Internet sites.
The activities of the Arctic Council are also closely related to the Arctic Ocean. Several global projects are being implemented under the auspices of this international forum.The working groups regularly monitor the state of the northern large-scale reservoir, the quality of its water, the influence of humanity and its life activity on the Arctic Ocean. Issues of melting glaciers, pollution of snow and ice by dust and soot emitted into the atmosphere of the planet are particularly acute.
The Council of the Arctic countries is conducting research on changes in the composition of ocean waters due to carbon dioxide, the concentration of which is constantly increasing as a result of industrial human activity.
The Council’s area of work is maritime shipping, its development prospects, route development, the preservation of the flora and fauna of ocean waters.
The Arctic is an amazing place, where in extreme weather conditions there are many species of animals and birds, marine and oceanic inhabitants, as well as a huge number of land and sea plants. The Arctic Council in its activities actively supports the desire to preserve the flora and fauna of the Arctic and subarctic regions, without disturbing the natural balance of human activity. The Council’s special attention is attracted by the spread of more southerly plant and animal species to the northern regions due to climate change.as well as the emergence of new diseases and mutations. The danger is also possible against the background of warming mismatch of biological processes of different interdependent organisms and, as a consequence, their death.
Changes in the cryosphere, the disappearance of Arctic species of flora and fauna is a potential danger of already existing processes in the planet's climate, as well as human activities. A separate issue highlighted the problem of preserving the population of polar bears and Arctic wolves.
The peoples of the Arctic zone
A special area of work that is being carried out by the Arctic Council is the inhabitants of this northern region. Living conditions allowed the traditional crafts and crafts of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic regions to be preserved. According to some estimates, about 400 million people live in the Arctic - indigenous people, immigrants, scientists, trappers.
The economic relations of the subarctic regions, their interaction in various spheres of life are worthy of special attention. The priority of the work of the Arctic Council in relation to the peoples of the Arctic is the development of all regions of this part of the planet, both economically and socially.Working groups do not even lose sight of everyday issues, such as water supply and sanitation with cleaning systems, human health, and even prevention of suicides among members of northern communities.
The large-scale problems that the member countries and observers of the Arctic Council are looking for address the entire modern community. The legal agreements that are signed within the framework of this organization concern climate change, rescue operations, development and preservation of the region’s fauna and flora, and the maintenance of the social and economic life of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic region. By the way, the first agreement, which received the status of a legal document, rather than a letter of recommendation, was signed by the Arctic Group of Eight in 2011. It is called the Agreement on Cooperation in Aviation and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic, and it was initiated by Russia.
The Arctic Council has been working for 20 years. Over the years, enormous research has been carried out on various topics of relevance to the Arctic and subarctic region: changes in climatic conditions, pollution of snow, ice and waters of the Arctic, shipping, safety, search and assistance, tourismplant and animal life of the region, the national community and the preservation of the identity of the indigenous population.
Peace and stability, goodwill and compliance with international law - these are the principles of the work of the Arctic Council.