At age twenty-five, the Arctic Council has emerged as a highly visible and sought-after international forum.
Circumstances were different in 1996 when the Ottawa Declaration was signed by representatives of the eight Arctic states, establishing the Arctic Council as a high level forum with a “special emphasis on the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples.” At the time, the Arctic was generally seen as a peripheral region outside the mainstream of world affairs.
Perhaps this situation provided the very conditions required to coordinate the interests of eight sovereign nations. During the decade leading up to the official launch of the Arctic Council, countless meetings occurred among a limited group of people from across all Arctic states. Meetings, which took place with regularity, developed over time into intimate gatherings where personal connections encouraged substantive discussion. This spirit carried through to the early days of the Arctic Council where Senior Arctic Officials and members of the Working Groups developed close connections and a shared understanding of local and regional issues.
Since the founding of the Arctic Council conditions have changed. A sizable number of non-Arctic states and non-governmental organizations have joined the Council as Observers, media coverage has increased, and corporate interests have kept an eye on business opportunities. How might these developments change the operations of the Arctic Council? How can the region’s Indigenous peoples maintain a strong presence in this increasingly crowded field?
Some argue that the “new” Arctic is now part of the global system. With these pressures in mind, how can the Arctic Council retain the virtues of a smaller organization and also embrace a philosophy of inclusivity?
Please join a lively conversation with Arctic luminaries, Rosemarie Kuptana, Franklyn Griffiths and Oran Young, moderated by Tony Penikett. This live Zoom event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 24th at 1:00pm PST / 4:00pm EST.