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Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council (Ottawa, Canada, 1996)

The representatives of the Governments of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States of America (hereinafter referred as the Arctic States) meeting in Ottawa;

Hereby declare:

1. The Arctic Council is established as a high level forum to:

  1. provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common arctic issuesFootnote 1 , in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
  2. oversee and coordinate the programs established under the AEPS on the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP); conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF); Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME); and Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPPR).
  3. adopt terms of reference for and oversee and coordinate a sustainable development program.
  4. disseminate information, encourage education and promote interest in Arctic-related issues.

2. Members of the Arctic Council are: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States of America (the Arctic States).

The Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the Saami Council and the Association of Indigenous Minorities in the Far north, Siberia, the Far East of the Russian Federation are Permanent Participants in the Arctic Council. Permanent participation is equally open to other Arctic organizations of indigenous peoplesFootnote 2 with majority Arctic indigenous constituency, representing:

  1. a single indigenous people resident in more than one arctic State; or
  2. more than one Arctic indigenous people resident in a single Arctic State.

The determination that such an organization has met this criterion is to be made by decision of the Council. The number of Permanent Participants should at any time be less than the number of members.

The category of Permanent Participation is created to provide for active participation and full consultation with the Arctic indigenous representatives within the Arctic Council.

3. Observer status in the Arctic Council is open to:

  1. Non-arctic states;
  2. inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary organizations, global and regional; and
  3. non-governmental organizations

that the Council determines can contribute to its work.

4. The Council should normally meet on a biennial basis, with meetings of senior officials taking place more frequently, to provide for liaison and coordination. Each arctic State should designate a focal point on matters related to the Arctic Council.

5. Responsibility for hosting meetings of the Arctic Council, including provision of secretariat functions, should rotate sequentially among the Arctic States.

6. The Arctic Council, as its first order of business, should adopt rules of procedure for its meetings and those of its working groups.

7. Decisions of the Arctic Council are to be by consensus of the Members

8. The Indigenous Peoples' secretariat established under AEPS is to continue under the framework of the Arctic Council.

9. The Arctic Council should regularly review the priorities and financing of its programs and associated structures.

Therefore, we the undersigned representatives of our respective Governments, recognizing the Arctic Council's political significance and intending to promote its results, have signed this declaration.

Signed by the representatives of the Arctic States in Ottawa on the 19th of September, 1996.

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