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The Arctic Council

China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-13 07:17

Formally established on Sept 19, 1996, by the Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council (Ottawa Declaration), the Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that sets out to promote cooperation and coordination among circumpolar states over issues such as sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. The council's main decision-making mechanism is a bi-annual ministerial meeting.

The Arctic Council currently includes eight member states: Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.

Six non-Arctic countries have been admitted as observers to the Arctic Council: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

There are three ad hoc non-Arctic observer states in the council, including China. Ad hoc observers have to apply to be admitted to attend Arctic Council meetings. But in term of influence on the decision-making process in the council's ministerial meetings, a permanent observer status is no different from an ad hoc observer. Only Arctic Council member states have voting rights.

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