An Analysis of New Criteria for Permanent Observer Status on the Arctic Council and the Road of Non-Arctic States to Arctic

Peiqing Guo *
Author Information & Copyright
*School of Law and Political Science, Ocean University of China, 238 Songling Road, Qingdao, 266100, PR China. E-mail address:

© Copyright 2021 Korea Maritime Institute. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Dec 31, 2012


According to new criteria for admitting permanent observers to the Arctic Council, aspiring states must recognize the sovereignty and sovereign jurisdiction of Arctic states. Due to inherent mistakes neglecting history, logical and international law, the new criteria are problematic. Under this new situation, non-Arctic states need to weigh advantages and disadvantages before submitting an application. This study argues that observer status will bring more obligations but fewer rights, and will have negative consequences. The permanent observer status is not the best option for non-Arctic states to participate in Arctic governance. There are many roads to Arctic such as UNLOS, FAO, IMO and the Spitsbergen Treaty that offer many opportunities and strong platforms for non-Arctic states participating in Arctic issues. As a result of these new criteria, the Arctic Council is faced with challenges from non-Arctic states. Only when both Arctic and non-Arctic states find the balance based on mutual respect and mutual understanding, will there be a prospect of a settlement of Arctic governance.

Keywords: Arctic; Arctic Council; Permanent Observer; China