Arctic Council continues steps towards resuming expert group work

The flags of the eight Arctic states and the six Arctic Indigenous groups that make up the Arctic Council. (Kaisa Siren/Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland)

The Arctic Council has taken another step towards resuming work, with a meeting this month with the body’s six Indigenous groups. 

The council, consisting of world’s eight circumpolar countries and the Indigenous groups, known as Permanent Participants, said the meeting in Girkonjárga-Kirkenes in Norway was held to discuss areas of focus.

Eye on the Arctic contacted some of the Permanent Participants with Canadian membership for details on the priorities they shared at the meeting but did not receive responses.

But in a statement, the Arctic Council said the meeting would help pave the way for the body’s expert teams to resume their work on environmental and sustainable development projects

“This meeting was important to align on and advance productive cooperation on the resumption of Working Group level activities and discussions on the current status and future of the Arctic Council,” Morten Høglund, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials, said in a statement. 

Morten Høglund, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials. (Kristina Bar/Arctic Council Secretariat)

“Multilateral people-to-people cooperation among Indigenous Peoples is integral to the mandate of the Arctic Council, and I am grateful to all participants for the constructive discussions this week, and for the opportunity to continue to support this cooperation,” Høglund said. 

Work put on hold after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

In March 2022, the seven Western states (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States) suspended their involvement in Arctic Council activities in protest of fellow member Russia’s  invasion of Ukraine, citing violations of the forum’s foundational principles, including sovereignty and territorial integrity under international law.

In June 2022, the Western states announced that they had resumed work on some projects, excluding those involving Moscow

Upon assuming the council’s two-year rotating chairmanship this year, Norway signaled its main goal would be finding a way forward for the Arctic Council to continue its work.

Earlier this summer, they headed a meeting of the states and permanent participants to establish guideline consensus for restarting the working groups.

A 2023 photo of Kirkenes, Norway, the city where an Arctic Council meeting was held this month with its Permanent Participants. (James Brooks/AFP/ via Getty Images)

The meeting this month was held Oct 2-3 on the margins of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Norwegian Arctic Council chairmanship runs until 2025.

Comments, tips or story ideas? Contact Eilís at eilis.quinn(at) 

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Northern premiers say Canada can’t have Arctic security without infrastructure, The Canadian Press

Denmark: Danish policy prioritizes low-conflict Arctic amidst Russian tensions, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland counted its bomb shelters and found 50,500 of them, Reuters

Iceland: Icelandic embassy suspends operations in Moscow, Eye on the Arctic

NorwayBritish & Norwegian F-35s scrambled in North to intercept Russian military plane, The Independent Barents Observer

RussiaBorder trouble not on agenda when FSB boss visited Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: US bombers land in northern Sweden for first time, Radio Sweden

United States: Russian, Chinese vessels near Alaska reminder of ‘new era of aggression’: Senators, Eye on the Arctic

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