The United States assumed the two-year rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council on April 24, 2015. Click here to learn more.
The United States has been an Arctic nation with important interests in the region since the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. At that time, national security and economic development were key U.S. interests. While this remains true today, significant changes in the international political arena, environmental, scientific and technological developments, and increasing global interdependence have created new priorities and opportunities for the United States and the other Arctic nations.
U.S. Arctic policy reflected in the 2009 National Security Presidential Directive 66 – Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25 [PDF]. This directive focuses on environmental protection and sustainable development, with particular emphasis on the role of indigenous people and other Arctic residents as stakeholders in the Arctic.
U.S. Arctic policy is based on the following principal objectives:
- Meeting U.S. national security needs.
- Protecting the Arctic environment and conserving its living resources.
- Ensuring environmentally-sustainable natural resource management and economic development in the region.
- Strengthening institutions for cooperation among the eight Arctic nations (the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, and Sweden).
- Involving the Arctic’s indigenous communities in decisions that affect them.
- Enhancing scientific monitoring and research on local, regional, and global environmental issues.
The 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region implements the 2009 Arctic policy by guiding, prioritizing, and synchronizing three priority lines of effort to:
- Protect U.S. national and homeland security interests
- Promote responsible stewardship
- Foster international cooperation
The United States is an active and influential member of the Arctic Council, the premier forum for Arctic diplomacy. Secretary of State John Kerry represented the United States at the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden, which marked the end of Sweden’s two-year Chairmanship of the Council and the beginning of the Canadian Chairmanship. The United States assumed the Arctic Council Chairmanship in 2015-2017.
More information about the State Department's role in promoting U.S. interests in the Arctic is available by contacting the Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs.