Principle of Consensus: All decisions of the Arctic Council and its subsidiary bodies are by consensus of the eight Arctic Member States.

The Council's activities are conducted in six Working Groups. It is the responsibility of the Working Groups to execute the programs and projects mandated by the Arctic Council Ministers. These mandates are stated in the Ministerial Declarations, the official documents that result from Ministerial Meetings.

The work of Working Groups covers a broad field of subjects, from climate change to emergency response.

Each Working Group has:

  • a specific mandate under which it operates
  • a Chair
  • a Management Board or Steering Committee

Each is supported by a Secretariat.

Working Group Management Boards are typically comprised of:

  • representatives of national governmental agencies of the Arctic Council Member States, connected to the mandates of the Working Groups; and
  • representatives of the Permanent Participants.
  • Observer States and Observer Organizations are likely to attend Working Group meetings and participate in specific projects.

In addition, Working Groups regularly have invited guests or experts attending their meetings.