A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF NORMAC
Norwich Model Arctic Council (NORMAC) is a simulation of the real-world Arctic Council . Established in 1996, the Arctic Council is devoted to advancing international cooperation and good governance across the circumpolar Arctic. Around its table sit not only the Arctic States—Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA—but also Arctic indigenous peoples organisations representing the Aleut, Athabaskans, Gwitch’in, Inuit, Saami and the many peoples of the Russian North.
Held at Norwich School in the cathedral city of Norwich in the UK, NORMAC is one of the few conferences of its kind in the world ever held at secondary-school level. Before becoming a teacher, NORMAC Director Dr Anthony Speca lived and worked in the Arctic as a senior policy official with the Government of Nunavut, one of Canada’s Arctic territories. He launched NORMAC to share his enthusiasm for the Arctic with pupils, and in the hope of inspiring them to learn more about this unique region and its peoples.
Whilst schools with experience of Model United Nations may find some aspects of the conference familiar, NORMAC offers an exciting new format of model diplomacy. The Arctic Council is unusual not only in promoting the active involvement of indigenous peoples alongside states, but also in making all decisions by consensus rather than majority vote. The Arctic Council is also well-known for collegiality and consensus-building even during times of tension between participants elsewhere in the world—valuable lessons for delegates to learn.
PARTICIPATING IN NORMAC
Participation in NORMAC is open to any secondary-school around the world. Schools are invited to send one or more delegations of three to six pupils each to play the role of representatives from one of the eight Arctic States or six Arctic indigenous peoples organisations. As with most other model diplomacy conferences, participants are usually aged 15 to 18, though some may be younger.
If demand is high, it is possible that the number of delegations per school will be limited, or the number of delegates per delegation increased. Registered schools will be informed of any such changes at the close of the registration period.
Since NORMAC operates by the rule of consensus, delegates will find their diplomatic skills stretched and improved. Unlike at other model diplomacy conferences, NORMAC delegates do not debate pre-prepared resolutions. Rather, they rise to the challenge of negotiating mutually agreeable ‘declarations’ in real time. To assist with the process of consensus building, each delegation is requested to provide a very brief discussion paper a week or two ahead of the conference, which will be circulated to other delegations.
NORMAC 2020 will be held over three days, beginning in the evening of Thursday 5th March, and ending in the afternoon of Sunday 8th March.
ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION
At NORMAC 2020, delegates will consider a set of issues that are very much of concern to Arctic States and Arctic indigenous peoples today:
- Safety in Arctic marine tourism
- Plastic pollution in the Arctic marine environment
- Sustainable energy in Arctic communities
- The European Union as an Arctic Council Observer
Please see below for Research Briefs to help delegates prepare to discuss these issues at the conference.
MATERIALS FOR DELEGATES
Delegate materials for NORMAC 2020 are available for download using the links below:
Like Ministerial meetings of the real Arctic Council, every NORMAC conference ends with a declaration summarising the agreements reached. Past ‘Norwich Declarations’ are available for download below.
Please note that the following declarations represent the collective agreement of secondary-school student delegates to NORMAC, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Polar Aspect or Norwich School.
- NORMAC 2016 Norwich Declaration
- NORMAC 2017 Norwich Declaration
- NORMAC 2018 Norwich Declaration
- NORMAC 2019 Norwich Declaration
It has been an honour to welcome the following distinguished guests as NORMAC Honorary Chairs and keynote speakers:
- Mr Matthew Willis, International Defence Relations, Global Affairs Canada (2016)
- Ms Christine Kelly, Polar Regions Department, Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK (2017)
- Ms Sarah Gavron and Mr David Katznelson , filmmakers, Village at the End of the World (2018)
- Dr David Rose, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia (2019)
- Prof Mariele Neudecker , Bath School of Art, Bath Spa University (2020)
PRESENTATIONS AND PUBLICATIONS ABOUT NORMAC
NORMAC Director Dr Anthony Speca has had the privilege of writing and speaking about NORMAC in connection with the following publications and conferences:
- 1st UArctic Congress , St Petersburg University, Russia (2016)
- The Arctic Yearbook (2016)
- 9th International Congress on Arctic Social Sciences , Umeå University, Sweden (2017)
- 2nd UArctic Congress , University of Oulu, Finland (2018)
- 4th Polar Educators International Workshop , University of Cambridge, UK (2019)
- 2nd Model United Nations Advisers Conference , Wycombe Abbey, UK (2019)
- 6th UK Arctic Science Conference , Loughborough University, UK (2019)
- The Arctic Yearbook (2019)
- UK-Russia Arctic Marine Science Workshop , Northumbria University, UK (2019)
Polar Aspect and NORMAC have been fortunate to benefit from the support of, or charitable discounts offered by, the following organisations. Special thanks must go to Norwich School for their on-going partnership and generous financial and in-kind support.