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Arctic Council- role, structure, and Function | Indian Polity | General Studies II

 Table of Contents:

  • About Arctic Council
  • Write a short note on the structure and functioning of the Arctic Council. ( UPPSC 2021)

About Arctic Council:

The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum composed of eight Arctic countries: Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.

The Arctic Council was established in 1996 to promote cooperation and coordination among these nations on issues related to the Arctic region.

The Arctic Council focuses on environmental protection, sustainable development, and scientific research in the Arctic. It also includes six indigenous organizations as permanent participants, allowing them to contribute to decision-making processes.


Write a short note on the structure and functioning of the Arctic Council.

 (UPPSC Mains General Studies-II/GS-2 2021)


The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum established in 1996 to promote cooperation, coordination, and sustainable development in the Arctic region. 

The Arctic Council serves as a platform for Arctic states and indigenous peoples to discuss issues related to the environment, climate change, and socio-economic development. 

The Arctic Council operates on the principles of consensus and non-binding cooperation. 

The following is a short note on the structure and functioning of the Arctic Council:

Structure of Arctic Council:

Member States: 

The Arctic Council consists of eight Arctic states, known as the Arctic Eight or the Arctic Council States. The names of eight countries in the Arctic Council are:

  • Canada
  • Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands)
  • Finland
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Sweden
  • the United States of America

Permanent Participants: 

The Arctic Council also includes six indigenous peoples' organizations known as Permanent Participants. These organizations represent the Arctic's indigenous communities and have full consultation rights in the Council's work. 

Name of the Permanent Participants are :

  • the Aleut International Association
  • Arctic Athabaskan Council
  • Gwich'in Council International
  • Inuit Circumpolar Council
  • Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North
  • Saami Council


The Council operates on a rotating chairmanship system. Each member state holds the chairmanship for a two-year term. The chairmanship rotates among the Arctic Eight in alphabetical order.

Functioning of Arctic Council:

Working Groups: 

The Arctic Council functions through various working groups that focus on specific areas of cooperation. These working groups conduct research, provide expert advice, and propose initiatives on topics such as environmental protection, climate change, sustainable development, emergency response, and indigenous issues.

Ministerial Meetings: 

The Council convenes ministerial meetings every two years, during which ministers from member states and representatives of Permanent Participants gather to discuss and adopt policy guidelines and initiatives.

Expert Groups and Task Forces: 

The Arctic Council establishes expert groups and task forces to address specific challenges and conduct in-depth research on various Arctic-related issues.

Observer States and Organizations: 

The Arctic Council allows non-Arctic states and intergovernmental organizations to participate as observers. Observer status enables them to attend meetings, contribute to discussions, and participate in the Council's work. Currently, there are 13 observer states and 13 observer organizations. India is an observation country of the Arctic Council. 

Non-Binding Agreements: 

The Arctic Council's decisions and agreements are non-binding, meaning that they do not have the force of law. Instead, the Council focuses on fostering cooperation and mutual understanding among member states and stakeholders.

The Arctic Council plays a crucial role in addressing the unique challenges and opportunities in the Arctic region. It serves as a platform for dialogue and collaboration among Arctic states, indigenous peoples, and other stakeholders, contributing to the sustainable development and environmental protection of this sensitive and rapidly changing region.

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