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ICC Balks at Lack of Declaration from Arctic Council

Group picture of international representatives in business clothes at Arctic Council meeting

This year’s Arctic Council meeting in Finland ended without a formal declaration being passed. Some entities, like the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), have asserted it was because of the United States that there was no final declaration for the first time in the Arctic Council’s more than twenty-year history.

Dalee Sambo Dorough is the international chair of the ICC, which is one of the permanent participants that make up the Arctic Council. She said in a press release:

“Refusing to allow the words ‘climate change’ into the declaration is a moral failure… it’s a serious blow to the future of what is supposed to be a consensus-based body.”

CNN reported Tuesday that the US State Department denied it had prevented the Council from signing a declaration during the meeting. Instead of the traditional document, the eight Arctic Ministers from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and the U.S. issued a one-page joint statement that did not include the words “climate change.”

President of ICC Alaska, James Stotts, says regardless of the language used by the Council, Arctic indigenous communities are struggling.

“Our culture and life, and way of life, is under assault. The animals, birds and fish that we rely on for cultural and nutritional survival are increasingly under stress. We are worried for our food security. We believe it’s time to stop bickering over whether there is climate change or not and start implementing strategies and actions to survive climate change.”

In his own statements as Chairman of the Arctic Council, Timo Soini of Finland mentioned that a majority of the Council members regard climate change as a fundamental challenge facing the Arctic and acknowledge the need to take action.

At the conclusion of the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting this week, the Finnish Chair passed his Chairmanship over to Iceland, which will now hold that title for the next two years.

Image at top: The 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland. Photo: Photo: Jouni Porsanger / Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Photo shared via Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).