Russia-Canada Intergovernmental Economic Commission Arctic and North Working Group (ANWG) Terms of Reference

The current Russian co-chair is Mr. Mikhail Yurievitch KURBAKOV, Deputy Director of Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (Department for Regional Development) The Canadian co-chair is Mr. Jack ANAWAK, Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs.

Previous Canadian co-chairs of the ANWG were Foreign Minister Lloyd AXWORTHY and Deputy Minister of International Trade Len EDWARDS. Co-chairs for the Russian side were Goskomsever Minister Vladimir GOMAN and Deputy Minister Mukhamed TSIKANOV.

The last meeting of co-chairs was held in Ottawa in February 2005. The meeting prior to that was in December 2004 in Moscow. It is expected that a full plenary meeting of the Arctic and North Working Group will take place in 2005 in the Russian Federation.

Current Context

Canada and the Russian Federation are responsible for the largest land and sea areas of the rich and sensitive northern region of the world. Both countries are federations of diverse peoples and cultures and see value in sharing experiences to ensure that their citizens rights and opportunities are fully realized.

Prime Minister Martin asked Foreign Affairs Canada in 2004 to lead the work to sustain and enhance the Canada-Russia bilateral northern relationship, after agreeing with President Putin that northern cooperation is a priority for both countries. When the Minister of Foreign Affairs met with his Russian counterpart in Russia in September 2004, the Ministers agreed that Canada and Russia would work together to develop a forward-looking agenda for northern cooperation and establish an annual progress report to Foreign Ministers highlighting the development of bilateral northern relations.

In April 2004 at the meeting of the State Council of the Russian Federation President Putin discussed with the governors of Russian northern regions and key ministers priorities of the state policy of the Russian federation in the North, specially emphasizing international cooperation in that field.

When Prime Minister Martin and President Putin met again on October 12 in Moscow, they agreed to an immediate, systematic effort to reinvigorate the northern dimension of Canada-Russia relations, including the holding of a meeting of the Arctic and North Working Group (ANWG) prior to the end of 2004. Canada and the Russian Federation wish to use to the fullest extent possible the Arctic and North Working Group of the Intergovernmental Economic Commission.


ANWG shall be an advisory body to the Intergovernmental Economic Commission for facilitating bilateral discussions on policy issues of common concern related to the Arctic and the North.

ANWG shall fulfil the broad mandate of the Prime Minister and of the President.

On the basis of our shared values and mutual interest in strengthening the ANWG, and recognising existing cooperative agreements and mechanisms that enhance our partnership, Canada and the Russian Federation will undertake to identify ways of facilitating cooperation in sectors of mutual interest. In carrying this out, we recognise that special attention will be devoted to sub-national governments and non-governmental organisations such as industry associations and Indigenous Peoples groups to encourage them to act as leaders and catalysts in fostering and sustaining partnerships between their members and to more broadly disseminate information through their activities.

The ANWG will:

  • promote the development of cooperation between Canada and Russia in the Arctic and the North;
  • strike, on an ad hoc, as needed basis, sub-working groups to engage in bilateral discussions on policy issues of common concern related to the Arctic and the North or on other specific substantive areas;
  • prepare and up-date a forward-looking agenda on northern cooperation;
  • review and report annually on cooperation to Ministers;
  • provide, as appropriate, general policy directions in the area of bilateral cooperation in the Arctic and the North; and
  • consider proposals for the development of specific initiatives and assist as appropriate.

The ANWG activities include:

  • exchanges of and/or visits by delegations, including both short-term and long-term exchanges of and/or visits by officials, experts and northerners;
  • exchange of information and documentation;
  • joint research and development, and/or exchange of results;
  • joint symposiums, conferences and seminars for experts;
  • joint publications;
  • trade missions;
  • joint commercial ventures and activities;
  • technology exchange and transfer; and
  • other mutually agreed forms of cooperation.


Meetings and Cooperation

The ANWG will endeavour to meet annually, alternately in Russia and Canada. Efforts will be made to convene ANWG meetings at the time of other northern-related major international events held either in Canada or in Russia. ANWG will meet jointly with other working groups of the Intergovernmental Economic Commission to discuss issues of mutual interest. Meetings of experts and interested parties will be convened to consider issues which require specialized knowledge. Each country will designate its representatives to the working group=s sessions in accordance with its own procedures and practices.

Both sides, within their mandate, will endeavor to facilitate, when possible, issuance of visas for participants in ANWG activities

Canada and the Russian Federation will build on existing bilateral agreements, cooperate with organisations of which both Canada and the Russian Federation are members, such as the Arctic Council, seek to collaborate on initiatives such as the International Polar Year, and explore ways of collaborating with other Working Groups of the Intergovernmental Economic Commission through joint meetings on issue-specific items.


ANWG shall be co-chaired for Canada by the Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, currently Mr. Jack Anawak, and for Russia by Mr. Kurbakov, Deputy Director, Department for Regional Development, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, or their replacements.

Co-chairs will set out core Canadian and Russian participants in ANWG, including representatives of key Departments from both sides, to facilitate bilateral contacts.