U.S Department of State
Fact Sheet Office of the Spokesperson
May 6, 2019
“We believe… the Arctic is a space where there should be freedom of navigation; there should be low tension; there should be security; there should be rule of law; there should be transparency about what’s taking place….” – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, February 15, 2019
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leads the U.S. delegation to the 11th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council May 6-7, 2019, in Rovaniemi, Finland. As an Arctic State, the United States will join the seven other Arctic States at this biennial gathering to strengthen cooperation and ensure the region remains free of conflict. The Ministerial marks the conclusion of Finland’s two-year Arctic Council Chairmanship. The Secretary will also highlight a century of strong U.S.-Finland bilateral relations and the two countries’ shared commitment to democracy and human rights, regional and global security, and deep and enduring economic and diplomatic ties.
THE ARCTIC COUNCIL’S VITAL ROLE IN REGIONAL GOVERNANCE
- Established by the Ottawa Declaration in 1996, the Arctic Council is the premiere multilateral forum for the Arctic States to discuss matters of regional governance, together with indigenous peoples of the region.
- Council membership is strictly limited to the eight states with territory above the Arctic Circle: the United States, Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. There are no “near-Arctic” States.
- Together, with the seven other Arctic States, the United States builds cooperation at the Arctic Council based on shared values. Six Permanent Participant (PP) organizations representing Arctic indigenous peoples serve in an advisory capacity to the Arctic States.
- The Council operates based on consensus, echoing the peaceful and cooperative nature of the region. There has been no military conflict in the Arctic – and it remains conflict-free – in large part due to the Council’s strong, stable governance.
- Traditionally, the Council is chaired for two years by the foreign minister of the country holding the chairmanship. The day-to-day work is executed by eight Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) and six Permanent Participant representatives with input from working groups, expert groups, and task forces. After this year’s Ministerial, Iceland will take the chairmanship from Finland.
- This year, the ministers will adopt new work products on Arctic telecommunications connectivity, oil spill response, remote community energy networks, indigenous people’s health, and more.
- On May 7th, the U.S. and Finland celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations. Serving together on the Arctic Council is a perfect symbol of the constructive relationship we share.
THREATS TO ARCTIC SECURITY AND STABILITY MUST BE RECOGNIZED AND ADDRESSED
- U.S. Arctic policy is based on several principal objectives, including ensuring that the region remains free from conflict and is governed by the rule of law. All Arctic Council observers agree to recognize and respect Arctic States’ sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Arctic.
- Securing the Arctic is vital to the defense of the American homeland; the security of U.S. Allies, partners, and indigenous peoples; the preservation of freedom of the seas; and support for scientific research and commerce.
- China holds “observer” status at the Arctic Council, but is not an Arctic nation, since it sits 900 miles from the Arctic Circle.
- Russia, an Arctic Council member, has fruitfully cooperated with the Council in a number of areas, including education, oil spill response, search and rescue cooperation, and pollution issues. However, Russia’s unlawful regulation of foreign vessels transiting off its coasts and the government’s threats to use military force concern the United States Government, as well as other Council members.
- The United States will continue to preserve peace by working with allies and like-minded nations to deny adversaries and strategic competitors outsized access or influence in the Arctic, including with respect to offshore energy and mineral resources under the exclusive jurisdiction of the respective Arctic coastal states.
SUPPORTING TRANSPARENT, SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH AND RESEARCH
- The United States promotes good governance, environmental responsibility, and sustainable development of all energy resources in the Arctic, including oil and gas production, as well as clean, renewable energy.
- The United States is a world leader in particulate
matter emissions reductions, thanks to private industry innovation,
increased use of natural gas, and technological innovation.
- From 2005 to 2017, total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions fell 14%, while the United States became the world’s #1 energy producer. In contrast, global energy-related CO2 emissions increased more than 20%.
- In 2016, U.S. emissions of black carbon were 16% below 2013 levels, and by 2025 they are projected to nearly halve—the largest reported reduction by any Arctic State.
- Community engagement is essential to the Arctic Council’s work. The United States has been proud to sponsor One Arctic – One Health, which convenes experts in emergency management, health, animal, and environmental sciences to improve regional preparedness for health emergencies such as infectious disease outbreaks and natural disasters.
- The Arctic States conduct exercises to prepare for potential marine oil pollution incidents and search-and-rescue events across the region.
- Since 1883, when the first International Polar Year opened the region to scientific exploration, the U.S. has encouraged scientific cooperation and invested more in Arctic scientific research than any other nation. The National Science Foundation (NSF) alone has spent more than $100 million per year for the last decade on Arctic research.
- The United States has led or co-led the majority of the Council’s most important initiatives, including the first biological diversity assessment, the first offshore oil and gas assessment, and the first Arctic shipping assessment. U.S. scientists and researchers have led or contributed to the cutting-edge work the Council has produced for more than two decades.
- The Department of State supports Arctic research through the Fulbright Program, its flagship educational exchange. Established in 2015 during the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the Fulbright Arctic Initiative unites scholars from all eight Arctic States to focus on public policy research on community resilience and economic sustainability.