Non-Arctic States

France

Barrow Ministerial meeting, 2000

Germany

Iqaluit Ministerial meeting, 1998

Italian Republic 

Kiruna Ministerial meeting, 2013

Japan 

Kiruna Ministerial meeting, 2013

The Netherlands 

Iqaluit Ministerial meeting, 1998

People's Republic of China 

Kiruna Ministerial meeting, 2013

Poland 

Iqaluit Ministerial meeting, 1998

Republic of India 

Kiruna Ministerial meeting, 2013

Republic of Korea 

Kiruna Ministerial meeting, 2013

Republic of Singapore 

Kiruna Ministerial meeting, 2013

Spain 

Salekhard Ministerial meeting, 2006

Switzerland

Fairbanks Ministerial meeting, 2017

United Kingdom 

Iqaluit Ministerial meeting, 1998

Intergovernmental and interparliamentary organizations

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Rovaniemi Ministerial meeting, 2019

Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM)

Barrow Ministerial meeting, 2000

Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO)

Reykjavik Ministerial meeting, 2004

North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO)

Barrow Ministerial meeting, 2000

OSPAR Commission

Fairbanks Ministerial, 2017

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Inari Ministerial meeting 2002

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Iqaluit Ministerial meeting, 1998

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Fairbanks Ministerial meeting, 2017

West Nordic Council (WNC)

Fairbanks Ministerial meeting, 2017

Non-governmental organizations

Advisory Committee on Protection of the Sea (ACOPS)

Barrow Ministerial meeting, 2000

Arctic Institute of North America (AINA)

Reykjavik Ministerial meeting, 2004 (as: Arctic Circumpolar Route) 

Association of World Reindeer Herders (AWRH)

Barrow Ministerial meeting, 2000

Circumpolar Conservation Union (CCU)

Barrow Ministerial meeting, 2000

International Arctic Science Committee (IASC)

Iqaluit Ministerial meeting, 1998

International Union for Circumpolar Health (IUCH)

Iqaluit Ministerial meeting, 1998

Northern Forum (NF)

Iqaluit Ministerial meeting, 1998

Oceana

Fairbanks Ministerial meeting, 2017

University of the Arctic (UArctic)

Inari Ministerial meeting, 2002

World Wide Fund for Nature, Arctic Programme (WWF)

Iqaluit Ministerial meeting, 1998

At the Kiruna Ministerial Meeting in 2013, the Arctic Council “receive[d] the application of the EU for Observer status affirmatively”, but deferred a final decision. Until such time as Ministers of the Arctic States may reach a final decision, the EU may observe Council proceedings.

Criteria for admitting observers

As set out in the Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council and governed by the Arctic Council Rules of Procedure, observer status in the Arctic Council is open to non-Arctic States; inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary organizations, global and regional; and non-governmental organizations that the Council determines can contribute to its work.

In the determination by the Council of the general suitability of an applicant for observer status the Council will, inter alia, take into account the extent to which observers:

  • Accept and support the objectives of the Arctic Council defined in the Ottawa declaration.
  • Recognize Arctic States' sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Arctic.
  • Recognize that an extensive legal framework applies to the Arctic Ocean including, notably, the Law of the Sea, and that this framework provides a solid foundation for responsible management of this ocean.
  • Respect the values, interests, culture and traditions of Arctic indigenous peoples and other Arctic inhabitants.
  • Have demonstrated a political willingness as well as financial ability to contribute to the work of the Permanent Participants and other Arctic indigenous peoples.
  • Have demonstrated their Arctic interests and expertise relevant to the work of the Arctic Council.
  • Have demonstrated a concrete interest and ability to support the work of the Arctic Council, including through partnerships with member states and Permanent Participants bringing Arctic concerns to global decision making bodies.

Role of Arctic Council observers

Decisions at all levels in the Arctic Council are the exclusive right and responsibility of the eight Arctic States with the involvement of the Permanent Participants.

  • Observers shall be invited to the meetings of the Arctic Council once observer status has been granted.
  • While the primary role of observers is to observe the work of the Arctic Council, observers should continue to make relevant contributions through their engagement in the Arctic Council primarily at the level of Working Groups.
  • Observers may propose projects through an Arctic State or a Permanent Participant but financial contributions from observers to any given project may not exceed the financing from Arctic States, unless otherwise decided by the SAOs.
  • In meetings of the Council’s subsidiary bodies to which observers have been invited to participate, observers may, at the discretion of the Chair, make statements after Arctic states and Permanent Participants, present written statements, submit relevant documents and provide views on the issues under discussion. Observers may also submit written statements at Ministerial meetings.

At the 2013 Kiruna Ministerial Meeting an Arctic Council Observer Manual was formally adopted.

How to apply for observer status

  1. Read, in full, the following two documents:
    The Arctic Council Rules of Procedure, with attention to items 36, 37 and 38, as well as to Annex 2, which contains sections on “Accreditation and Review of Observers” and “Criteria for Admitting Observers”.
    The Arctic Council Observer Manual for Subsidiary Bodies, with attention to items 4.3, 6 and 7.1.
  2. Email the Arctic Council Secretariat requesting the Observer Application form.