Arctic Council Seeking Legal Agreement on Scientific Cooperation

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The United States expects to reach a legally binding agreement by 2017 on Arctic scientific cooperation between the 8 members of the Arctic Council, US Special Representative to the Arctic, Adm. Robert Papp said.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Arctic Council is comprised of the eight Arctic nations — the United States Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. The United States currently chairs the Arctic Council until the May 2017 ministerial meeting scheduled to be held in Fairbanks, Alaska.

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"This will be the third legally binding agreement in Arctic Council history, one that will enhance scientific cooperation in the Arctic, which we expect the Arctic states will officials sign at our ministerial in Fairbanks [Alaska] next year," Papp said at a Brookings Institution conference on Monday.

The framework is likely to cover issues ranging from access to scientific sites, and coordinating funding for scientific activities between governments.

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At present, each Arctic nation is working on its own and carrying out independent scientific research, which can lead to a duplication of efforts, Papp noted.

"Not one country within the Arctic Council can do everything that needs to be done within the Arctic," Papp stated, noting that sharing scientific research among states will be "more efficient and, in the long-term, more effective."

In a brief interview with reporters on Monday, Papp explained that he did not want to discuss the details of the proposed scientific cooperation protocol, arguing it could harm the negotiating process.

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