Agreement on scientific cooperation in the Arctic formally enters into force on 23 May 2018

Press release from the Arctic Council

The full name of the agreement is “Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation”. In this document, it’ll be called the “Agreement”. Its entry into force will be celebrated during this meeting in Ilulissat, Greenland.

Full text of the Agreement

Images for media use
(images of Ministers signing the Agreement on 11 May 2017 in Fairbanks, Alaska)

(other images from the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska)

The above images, including images of Ministers signing the Agreement, are available for download and use under Creative Commons BY ND license.
Credit: Arctic Council Secretariat / Linnea Nordström

Background facts about the Agreement
The Agreement was signed on 11 May 2017 as part of the 10th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council. The 10th Ministerial Meeting took place in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The Agreement will formally enter into force on 23 May 2018.

The Agreement was negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council. Those discussions were co- led by the Russian Federation and the United States of America.

The Agreement is the third such binding agreement negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council. The other two such agreements address search and rescue (signed 2011) and oil pollution preparedness and response (signed 2013).

The stated purpose of the Agreement is to enhance cooperation in scientific activities in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency in the development of scientific knowledge about the Arctic.

The depositary is the Kingdom of Denmark.

What are some key elements of the Agreement?

  • The Agreement is in three languages (English, French, Russian). The working language is English.
  • The Agreement addresses
    • Intellectual property and other matters
    • Entry and exit of persons, equipment, and material
    • Access to research infrastructure and facilities
    • Access to research areas
    • Access to data
    • Education, career development and training opportunities
    • Traditional and local knowledge
    • Laws, regulations, procedures, and policies
    • Resources
  • Annex 1 describes geographical area of application.
  • Annex 2 identifies contact points for each government.The Agreement was signed by the governments of the eight Arctic States.
  • Canada, by Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland
  • the Kingdom of Denmark, by Minister for Foreign Affairs Anders Samuelsen, as well as by Poul Michelsen, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Faroe Islands, and by Suka Fredriksen, Minister of Independence, Foreign Affairs and Agriculture of Greenland
  • the Republic of Finland, by Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini
  • Iceland, by Minister for Foreign Affairs Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson
  • the Kingdom of Norway, by Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brendefs
  • the Russian Federation, by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
  • the Kingdom of Sweden, by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström
  • the United States of America, by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson


Quotes from key individuals

Aleksi Härkönen, current Chair of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials

“I welcome the swift entry into force of the scientific cooperation agreement and wish to commend the role of Denmark as the depositary state in the process. We all expect that the Agreement will clear the remaining obstacles to research cooperation and thus broaden everybody ́s understanding of the Arctic. The Arctic Council should always base its work on best available knowledge – scientific research as well as indigenous and local knowledge, which the new Agreement also addresses.”

Vladimir Barbin, Senior Arctic Official for the Russian Federation and co-Chair of the Task Force that produced the Agreement

“In signing this Agreement, the Arctic States once again demonstrated their responsibility for the sustainable development of the Arctic and their firm resolution to achieve this goal by promoting regional cooperation based on the best available knowledge. This Agreement facilitates scientific cooperation beyond national borders, and it paves the way for joint responses of the Arctic States to new challenges in the region caused by global climate change and increased human activity. Russia welcomes the entry into force of this Agreement and intends to be an active participant in international Arctic scientific cooperation.”

Background facts about the Arctic Council

The Arctic Council focuses on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.

The Arctic Council was established in 1996.

The eight Arctic States are Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States.

The six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations are the Aleut International Association (AIA), the Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC), the Gwich’in Council International (GCI), the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), the Saami Council, and RAIPON – the Russian Association of Indigenous People of the North.

The six Working Groups of the Arctic Council are:
– ACAP (Arctic Contaminants Action Program)
– AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme)
– CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna)
– EPPR (Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response) – PAME (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment)
– SDWG (Sustainable Development Working Group)

The Arctic Council has more than thirty Observers. One third of its Observers are non-Arctic states.

The Finnish Chairmanship runs from 2017-2019, after which Iceland will assume the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2019 to 2021.

Meetings of Senior Arctic Officials are usually attended by between 100 and 150 people from around the world. The previous Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting was held in Levi, Finland in March 2018. The next will be held in Rovaniemi, Finland in fall of 2018.

The Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials is responsible for guiding the Arctic Council’s day-to-day work. He or she also serves as the spokesperson for the Council on most occasions. The current Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials is Ambassador Aleksi Härkönen of Finland.

The Arctic Council has provided a forum for the negotiation of three binding agreements among the eight Arctic States. The Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic was signed in 2011. The Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic was signed in 2013. The Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation was signed in 2017, and will soon enter into force.

The Arctic Council is a forum; it has no programming budget. All projects or initiatives are sponsored by one or more Arctic States. Some projects also receive support from other entities.

The Arctic Council’s mandate, as articulated in the Ottawa Declaration, explicitly excludes military security.

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