Polar Aspect strongly condemns Russia’s unjustified, unprovoked and immoral attack on Ukraine. We deeply deplore the immense suffering that Russia’s war is now visiting upon the people of Ukraine, and we salute their courage and resilience in the face of it.
Polar Aspect is dedicated to promoting understanding and dialogue in the Arctic and around the world, particularly through our Model Arctic Council (MAC) programmes for youth. We profess and teach the principles of cooperation, collaboration and consensus. War is incompatible with these principles.
Polar Aspect acknowledges the joint statement by Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the United States, announcing a pause in their participation in the Arctic Council. We recognise the need for this response to Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity, yet we also share with these states the conviction that the Arctic Council nevertheless remains of enduring value. Indeed, as a high-level forum where the voices of Arctic Indigenous peoples are heard alongside those of states, the Arctic Council is invaluable. We earnestly hope that a path emerges along which the Arctic Council can resume its important work for the benefit of all people in the Arctic.
By coincidence, on the day of the joint statement, Polar Aspect commenced our sixth Norwich Model Arctic Council for schools. We will continue to offer this MAC and all our MACs to school pupils and university students. Youth who are inspired by the Arctic, the Arctic Council, Indigenous rights, sustainable development and diplomacy must continue to learn about and express their thoughts on such important matters, in full awareness of the tragic backdrop against which their educational experience now unfolds. In the present context, Polar Aspect MACs take on special salience as channels through which youth can demonstrate their commitment to dialogue, and their capacity for concord.
According to Polar Aspect MAC rules of procedure, the pupils or students playing the Arctic State currently holding the Arctic Council Chairmanship do not themselves chair meetings. Instead, a third-party Polar Aspect ‘Secretariat’ serves as chair. Under no circumstances will any participant in a Polar Aspect MAC have to accept even fictively a Russian Chairmanship, irrespective of the fact that Russia currently chairs the Arctic Council.
Polar Aspect empowers youth to imagine and pursue a better Arctic in a better world. Above all, we are disheartened by the terrible harm that Russia’s war inflicts upon the children of Ukraine, and upon their imaginations. We plead for peace.