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Norwegian Nobel Committee

The Norwegian Nobel Institute


NO-0255 Oslo, Norway

January 15, 2018

Dear Members of the Nobel Prize Committee,


It is with conviction that we, the undersigned, write to nominate the Arctic Council for the 2018
Nobel Peace Prize.
The Arctic Council was established in 1996 to “provide a means for promoting cooperation,
coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous
communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular issues of
sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.” It has exceeded all
expectations. Amongst its achievements are promoting and maintaining peace and political stability
in the rapidly-changing Arctic region; including Indigenous peoples, scientists, and non-
governmental organizations, in addition to governments, in its work; and enacting measures that
protect the Arctic environment, including mitigating the impacts of climate change. The Arctic
Council provides a model for regional governance and deserves to be recognized for its success.
Indigenous Inclusion
The Arctic Council demonstrated from its beginnings a respect for Indigenous knowledge and rights,
through the creation of the category of Permanent Participants for Arctic Indigenous organizations,
of which there are six: Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaska Council, Gwich’in
International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Small-Numbered Peoples, and the
Saami Council. This was and remains unique in international governance. It needs to be emphasized
that Indigenous peoples are not token members of the Council, but powerful and valued members
with real influence on the Council’s work and direction. The Arctic Council continues to break ground
in integrating Traditional and Indigenous Environmental Knowledge in its scientific assessments.
Leader in Climate Change Science and Advocacy
The Arctic Council’s ground-breaking scientific work in the 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
was one of the first and most influential documentations of the effects of global warming. The Arctic
Council remains a forum wherein all eight member states acknowledge and appreciate the impacts
of climate change on human society and the environment, and are working in a united manner to
mitigate and adapt to its consequences. This makes it exceptional. At the Fairbanks Ministerial – the
biennial meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Arctic states held in May, 2017, and chaired this
year by the United States, the Ministers were able to agree to retain reference to the Paris
Agreement and reiterate the need for action to reduce long-lived greenhouse gases and short-lived
climate pollutants. Subsequently, the Arctic Council hosted a presentation on the global implications
of a rapidly changing Arctic at COP23 in Bonn, Germany, in November 2017, with the consent of all
eight member states.
With its efforts to reduce black carbon and methane emissions in the region, the Arctic Council also
became the first organization to take climate-specific action at the regional level.
A Commitment to Science, Knowledge-Creation and Evidence-Based Action
More so than any other regional organization, the Arctic Council endeavours to produce high quality
scientific knowledge through its six Working Groups in order to inform decision making and mitigate,
amongst other things, the impacts of climate change and pollution. It has delivered world-class
scientific assessments including the 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, the 2004 Arctic Human
Development Report, the 2009 Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment, the 2017 Snow, Water, Ice and
Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA) assessment and three recently released sub-regional assessments
on Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic (AACA). It furthermore contributed to the International
Maritime Organization’s Polar Code, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the
Minamata Convention on Mercury and other globally significant environmental measures.
The Arctic Council concluded an Agreement on Enhancing International Scientific Cooperation at the
Fairbanks Ministerial in May 2017. This will make it easier for scientists to travel, bring their
equipment across national borders, conduct studies and experiments and share their research and
expertise on Arctic issues. It furthermore promotes respect for and use of traditional knowledge.
What is noteworthy about this achievement is that it was co-chaired by the United States and Russia
at a time during which relations were otherwise strained.
Regional Peace and Stability
The past several years have been difficult ones for East-West relations. The Arctic Council has made
conscious and deliberate efforts to ensure dialogue and cooperation between Russia and the West
is sustained, at least in the polar region. At the most recent Ministerial meeting, leaders
acknowledged the importance of the organization. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the
Arctic Council “an indispensable forum in which we can pursue cooperation”. Russian Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov affirmed that in the Arctic “there is no potential for conflict”. Canadian
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland stated the Arctic Council “is a place where we the Arctic nations
can set aside issues outside the Arctic, and appreciate that we have the real honour of shared
stewardship of this incredibly beautiful and precious region.” And Norwegian Foreign Minister
Børge Brende argued that “together we are not only making a major contribution to stability and
prosperity in the Arctic. We are turning the Arctic into a global model for peace and sustainable
development.”
In its founding declaration, the Arctic Council precluded its members from discussing issues of
military security. While some critics have called this a handicap, in practice it has allowed the Arctic
to focus on matters pertaining to human, cultural and environmental security instead. At the same
time, the Arctic Council was able to conclude the 2011 Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical
and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic. This led directly to the establishment of an Arctic
Coast Guard Forum in 2015, which remarkably brought all eight states together to address
emergency maritime response and combined operations in the Arctic at a time when all other
military and defense cooperation was suspended.
The Arctic Council has also included a number of European and Asian states as Observers, providing
space for non-Arctic states to contribute to regional peace, stability and environmental protection.
In this, the Arctic Council has provided a valuable lesson in adapting to a changing world and seeing
increasing global interest in the region not as a threat but as an opportunity for mutual cooperation.
Although not negotiated under the formal auspices of the Arctic Council, the November 2017
international agreement banning commercial fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean is an example of
how its principles and values are being extended throughout regional Arctic governance.
A Deserving Candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize
In a time when facts have been challenged, diversity has been viewed with suspicion, and the value
of international cooperation has been questioned, the Arctic Council has persevered in its work
unabated.
The Arctic region has always been a place where cooperation between and amongst groups was not
only desirable, but in many cases necessary for survival. This philosophy has continued into the 21st
century, where climate change, globalization, mass-scale utilization of resources, and narrow
interpretations of geopolitics impose new challenges to the region.
We can nominate no individual, no leader of the Arctic Council, because the organization is and has
always been about the work that can be done when states, sub-national regions, Indigenous groups,
researchers, and NGOs collaborate. The Arctic Council is a model for promoting fraternity between
nations, and a deserving recipient of Alfred Nobel’s Peace Prize.

Signed by the Members of the University of the Arctic Thematic Network on Geopolitics and
Security:

Prof. Lassi Heininen, Finland, CHAIR

Dr. Maria Ackrén, Greenland


Prof. Sandra Maria Rodrigues Balão, Portugal
Prof. Michael Byers, Canada
Dr. Baozi Cheng, China
Dr. Lau Blaxekjær, Faroe Islands
Harry Borlase, Canada
Prof. Rasmus Bertelsen, Denmark
Margret Cela, Iceland
Dr. Michael T. Corgan, USA
Francisco Cuogo, Brazil
Dr. Duncan Depledge, United Kingdom
Prof. Klaus Dodds, United Kingdom
Karen Everett, Canada
Dr. Heather Exner-Pirot, Canada
Dr. Andrea Finger-Stich, Switzerland
Prof. Matthias Finger, Switzerland
Piotr Graczyk, Poland
Prof. Gunhild Hoogensen-Gjørv, Norway
Dr. Rob Huebert, Canada
Malte Humpert, Germany
Jussi Huotari, Finland
Audur H. Ingolfsdottir, Iceland
Kim Insuk, Korea
Mikhail Kalentchenko, Russia
Liisa Kauppila, Finland
Dr. Sanna Kopra, Finland
Dr. Whitney P. Lackenbauer, Canada
Dr. Marina Lagutina, Russia
Dr. Steven Lamy, USA
Dr. Natalia Loukacheva, Canada
Dr. Michal Luszczuk, Poland
Prof. Nikita Lomagin, Russia
Dr. Lotta Manninen, Finland
Dr. John Markowitz, USA
Matthaios Melas, United Kingdom
Ayonghe Nebasifu, Cameroon
Dr. Heather Nicol, Canada
Dr. Annika E. Nilsson, Sweden
Dr. Andreas Østhagen, Norway
Prof. Willy Østreng, Norway
Joël Plouffe, Canada
Dr. Barbora Padrtova, Czech Republic
Dr. Teemu Palosaari, Finland
Dr. Gustav Pettursson, Iceland
Mario Pontes, Portugal
Andreas Raspotnik, Austria
Dr. Larissa Riabova, Russia
Benjamin Schaller, Germany
Prof. Alexander Sergunin, Russia
Dr. Jessica Shadian, Canada
Dr. Jack D. Sharples, Scotland
Dr. Jennifer Spence, Canada
Ilya Stepanov, Russia
Adam Stepien, Poland
Dr. Aki Tonami, Japan
Dr. Gleb Yarovoy, Russia
Florian Vidal, France
Andrian Vlakhov, Russia
Gerald Zojer, Austria