Arctic Political Organisations

Following the International Year 2007-2008, the International Arctic Research Committee (IASC) has been recognised by the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) as the primary non-governmental organisation charged with coordinating Arctic research.  IASC has restructured itself to establish a number of Working Groups, Expert Groups and Action Groups through which international research activities can be developed and supported.  The long established Arctic Ocean Science Board (AOSB) has become the Marine Working Group of IASC but other coordinating organisations, such as the European Polar Board (EPB) and the Forum of Arctic Research Operators (FARO) remain independent of IASC, though continue to interact with them.

The lead international governmental organisation in the northern regions is the Arctic Council which emerged in 1996 as an outcome of the Ottawa Declaration.  It comprises representation from all eight Arctic Rim Nations and six indigenous Permanent Participants.  The indigenous groups are the Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), and the Saami Council.   There are also a number of non-Arctic Permanent Observer States (UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Spain) and several Ad-Hoc Observer States (China Italy, South Korea, Japan and the European Union) who are seeking Permanent Observer status.  Additional non-governmental organisations at Arctic Council include WWF and the University of the Arctic.

The Council is currently very limited in what it can exert influence at a political level, though it recently (2011) implemented an important Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, but it does manifest itself very effectively pan-Arctic through its various Working Groups, notably:

Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)

Assessment and Monitoring of Arctic Pollution (AMAP)

Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME)

Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)

Arctic Contaminants Action Group (ACAP)

and through its Programmes:

Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA)

Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA)

Arctic Human Development Report

Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme (CBMP)

Snow, Water, Ice, Permafrost Assessment (SWIPA)

Other useful links:

Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples Secretariat (IPS)

Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region

WWF Arctic Program