The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
IMPLICATION OF OBSERVER STATUS TO INDIA:
- Observers do not have a role in decision making and their membership can be suspended if their activity is not in consonance with the principles enshrined in the Arctic Council’s documents.
- The Arctic Council ministers have adopted a manual of rules of engagement for observer members. It stipulates that “observers are encouraged to continue to make relevant contributions through their engagement primarily at the level of working groups”. This provides India an opportunity to take part in the meetings of various working groups.
- The Arctic Council has six working groups covering pollution, monitoring and assessment, conservation of fauna and flora, emergency preparedness and response, Arctic marine environment and sustainable development.
- India, given its scientific expertise in the Arctic, Antarctic, the Himalayas and capabilities in remote sensing, can surely contribute to the work of some of the working groups.
- India’s membership of the council will boost its nascent field of Arctic research. Besides official involvement, an opportunity also comes for Indian think tanks, which should develop close co-operation with their Arctic counterparts to understand the evolution of the Arctic sea.