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
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

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
Northern Forum (NF)
Iqaluit Ministerial meeting, 1998
Oceana
Fairbanks Ministerial meeting, 2017
University of the Arctic (UArctic)
Inari Ministerial meeting, 2002

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.

Recent observer publications