The Arctic Council: A Unique Institution in 21st-Century International Relations

World Policy Blog posted an article titled, “The Arctic Council: A Unique Institution in 21st-Century International Relations.” The article reads in part as follows;

“‘These are urgent times’, warned Carnegie Corporation president Vartan Gregorian, ‘that require up-to-date, in-depth research to allow the vast learning reservoir of our universities to be of assistance to practitioners in the public and foreign policy domains’. This 13-part blog series about the Arctic Council attempts to do just that. In their contributions, International Policy Institute Arctic Fellows in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington endeavor to adapt in-depth research projects to policy-relevant articles. Their pieces examine the role of the Arctic Council in international relations outside the region, and why it is critical that practitioners understand the contours of this relatively new organization.

The Arctic Council is a unique international institution that influences how we think about regional governance, nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous peoples, energy issues, and the concepts of environmental protection and sustainability as central to global security. The Arctic Council challenges, pushes against, and inspires new ways of organizing international relations and fostering socially conscious decision making. This past February, Heather Exner-Pirot, in a blog posted on Arctic Now, suggested the Arctic Council should be nominated for a Nobel Peace PrizeShe pointed out that the Arctic Council is an incredible model for the international community—a model for diplomacy between what can otherwise be contentious international relations; for informed, pragmatic decision making; and for long-term goals that will serve the region into the future.

The Arctic Council is also the first international organization where the heads of Indigenous communities engage in policy discussions on almost equal par with ministers of foreign affairs. There is no precedent for this. How will the effective engagement of the Permanent Participants in the Arctic Council, which includes ongoing efforts to incorporate traditional and local knowledge into all of the functions of the Council, influence international affairs more broadly?

The Arctic Council has “broken the ice,” enabling the world’s largest international organizations to find new ways of involving Indigenous peoples in decision making. For example, as Elena Bell describes in her article, the honorable Leona Aglukkaq was appointed as the first Inuk chair of the Arctic Council from 2013 to 2015, bringing significant international media attention to the organization. Malina Dumas analyzes the role of the Permanent Participants as a possible model for the United Nations. Finally, Lucy Kruesel, in her assessment of the film Angry Inuk and its focus on the Inuit sealing economy, explores how the Permanent Participants are in the driver’s seat when evaluating applications for Observer status in the Arctic Council.”

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