Katso englanninkielistä välilehteä Arctic cooperation.Sisällysluettelo: Politiikka, järjestäytyminen ja organisaatiot
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The initial idea leading eventually to the establishment of the Arctic Council was launched in 1987 in Murmansk by former Soviet Secretary-General Mikhail Gorbachev. The Soviet leader proposed that the Arctic states could initiate cooperation in various fields, one of these being protection of the Arctic environment. This idea was partly given concrete form when Finland convened a conference of the eight Arctic states - Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Soviet Union and the United States - in Rovaniemi in 1989 to discuss the issue of protecting the Arctic environment. After two additional preparatory meetings in Yellowknife, Canada, and Kiruna, Sweden, the eight Arctic states, as well as other interested actors (especially the organizations of Arctic indigenous peoples) met again in Rovaniemi in 1991 to sign the Rovaniemi Declaration, by which they adopted the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS). Due to the place where the co-operation started, Arctic-wide co-operation before the establishment of the Arctic Council is called the Rovaniemi Process.
The Rovaniemi Declaration provides for a general obligation to continue AEPS cooperation. The forms of this environmental cooperation are specified in the Strategy. Section 10, paragraph 5, enumerates the terms of reference of AEPS cooperation, providing the cooperation process with a broad mandate for protecting the Arctic environment. Paragraphs 3 and 4 provide for the participation of other than Arctic states. The three international organizations of the Arctic indigenous peoples are accorded the legal status of observers; paragraph 10 (4) states:
In order to facilitate the participation of Arctic indigenous peoples the following organizations will be invited as observers: the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the Nordic Saami Council and the U.S.S.R. Association of Small Peoples of the North.
The decision-making procedure is not made explicit in the Strategy; the parties only agreed that the date and venue of the next meeting will be agreed upon at the preceding meeting.
It was agreed that the first ministerial-level follow-up meeting would be held in 1993 in Nuuk, Greenland, where a Declaration on Environment and Development was signed by the representatives of the eight Arctic states. The institutional structure which was laid down in the AEPS document was extended somewhat at the Nuuk meeting with the establishment of new environmental protection working-groups. Other institutional developments at Nuuk included the meetings of the Senior Arctic Affairs Officials (SAAO).
The second follow-up meeting of AEPS cooperation took place in Inuvik, Canada, in March 1996, where the Inuvik Declaration was adopted. The Declaration signed there was adopted at a time when the negotiations on the establishment of the Arctic Council were underway. It was important from the viewpoint of the Arctic indigenous peoples that Denmark was willing to establish a secretariat for the purpose of making it possible for the indigenous peoples to participate in the activities of the working groups.
The Arctic Council was established in September 1996 in Ottawa, Canada. The Arctic states signed an instrument called the Declaration Establishing the Arctic Council (hereinafter the constitutive instrument) and issued a joint communiqué to explain the newly created body. The establishment of the Arctic Council amended the forms of Arctic cooperation which were previously based on the AEPS document. The constitutive instrument of the Arctic Council substantially extends the terms of reference of Arctic cooperation. As was stated above, Arctic cooperation based on the AEPS document concentrated only on protecting the Arctic environment. Now the terms of reference of the Arctic Council were defined as common Arctic issues, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. Hence, all issues which are defined as common can, in principle, be dealt with by the Arctic Council. This provides a very wide mandate for the Council since the common issues can include almost any international policy issue; however, in a footnote the instrument stipulates that the Arctic Council should not deal with matters related to military security. Environmental cooperation is now included as a principal focus within the mandate of the Council, with the four working groups of AEPS cooperation continuing under the umbrella of the Arctic Council. The second pillar of the mandate is cooperation on sustainable development.
The constitutive instrument amends and greatly elaborates the rules on participation. It provides for three categories of participants: members, permanent participants and observers. The eight Arctic states are members, the three organizations which represent the indigenous peoples of the Arctic are permanent participants and the criteria for observers are also laid down. In addition, the instrument specifies the criteria for the status of permanent participants and the decision-making procedure for determining that status. Article 2 (2) reads:
Permanent participation is equally open to other Arctic organizations of indigenous peoples with majority Arctic indigenous constituency, representing: a. a single indigenous people resident in more than one Arctic State; or b. more than one Arctic indigenous people resident in a single Arctic state. Decisions by the Arctic states on whether this criterion is fulfilled must be unanimous.
Article 2 also states: The number of Permanent Participants should at any time be less than the number of members. It is also important that the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat established under the AEPS is to continue under the framework of the Arctic Council.
The decision-making procedure which had developed in AEPS cooperation is made explicit in the constitutive instrument. In Article 7 it is stipulated: Decisions of the Arctic Council are to be by consensus of the Members. In Article 2, member is defined as including only the eight Arctic states. This decision-making by consensus is to be undertaken only after full consultation with the permanent participants, i.e. the organizations of the Arctic indigenous peoples. Although these permanent participants do not have formal decision-making power, they are clearly in a position to exert much influence in practice on the decision-making of the Council.
The integration of AEPS cooperation under the Arctic Council did not take place immediately. The final AEPS ministerial meeting took place in Alta, Norway, in June 1997, where the Alta Declaration was adopted. The first meeting of the Arctic Council took place in Iqaluit, Canada, in September 1998. At the first meeting of the Arctic Council, the practical aspects of the functioning of the Council figured prominently. For example, the Arctic Council Rules of Procedure and the Arctic Council Terms of Reference for a Sustainable Development Program were adopted, since these are required by the constitutive instrument of the Arctic Council. The Rules of Procedure provide clear rules on how the Arctic Council and its cooperative bodies are to work together in practice. The Conference also accepted the Aleut International Association as a
permanent participant in addition to those already accepted in the constitutive instrument. In October 2000, the second ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council took place in Barrow, Alaska, where a Declaration was signed and chairmanship of the Council was transferred from the United States to Finland. New permanent participants were also accepted as stipulated in Paragraph 22 of the Declaration:
Approve the Arctic Athabascan Council and the Gwichin Council International as Permanent Participants in the Arctic Council and welcome those organizations to the Arctic Council. (original emphasis).
Finnish chairmanship ended in the Inari ministerial meeting in October 2002, where the chair was transferred to Iceland for the next two years.
In conclusion, it can be seen from the foregoing that the Arctic cooperation process has become more and more institutionalized with time. It started with very vague and general cooperation provisions in the AEPS document; the rules on participation, decision-making procedures and the mandate of the process became much more specific with the establishment of the Arctic Council; and the process has since become ever more detailed in its organizational structure.
From the perspective of Arctic indigenous peoples, the importance of the Arctic Council cannot be underestimated. It is the first inter-governmental organization in which the indigenous peoples have an almost equal status to that of sovereign states. Even though it is states that make the final decisions, this must be done with full consultation with the organizations of Arctic indigenous peoples. Some experts are of the view that this means a de facto power of veto for the Arctic indigenous peoples, especially since there are already six organizations of Arctic indigenous peoples that have been accepted as permanent participants in the Arctic Council. Another important function the Arctic Council plays is to set an example for other intergovernmental organizations about how indigenous peoples should be involved in international policy-making and law, an issue that was taken up in the recent 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. Unfortunately, the organizations of Arctic indigenous peoples are elsewhere frequently classified as ordinary non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with only very limited participation rights, such as are granted to all NGOs.
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