The Arctic Council and “Law-Making”
The Arctic Council (AC) is a high-level international intergovernmental forum founded by the Ottawa Declaration of 1996. Its eight member states are Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States. Six organizations representing Arctic Indigenous peoples have “Permanent Participant” status. The AC is not an international organization based on a legally binding instrument, such as a treaty. It does not have the legal personality of an international organization under international law, which would enable it to develop legislation or conclude treaties with other subjects of international law. However, although the AC is not a legislative body it has been contributing to the development of international law as it relates to the Arctic. In particular, the Arctic Council was engaged in the development and negotiation of three legally binding agreements concluded by the eight Arctic states: the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic (2011); the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic (2013); and the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation (2017). By looking at the “law-making” activities of the AC and, specifically, the agreements concluded under its aegis, this article investigates how these agreements have shaped the nature and evolution of this forum. Then the article explores the potential for further legally binding agreements negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council.
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