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Greenland and Sovereignty:

Past and Present


Introduction / 1

Early History and Culture / 1

History of Colonial Governance / 2

The Language Dilemma / 4

Domestic Relationship With Denmark / 6

Greenlandic Political Parties and their

Independence Positions / 8

The Constitutional Commission / 10

Addendum / 13

US-Greenland Relationship / 13

Hans Island Dispute and Arctic

Territorial Claims / 14

n the 21st century, there have been only exposes new economic opportunities and also
five new nations to emerge: South Sudan utterly disrupts a way of life that has existed for
in 2011, Kosovo in 2008, Serbia and Monte- hundreds of years. These issues make the ques-
negro in 2006, and Timor-Leste in 2002.1 While tions surrounding independence more relevant
there are several ongoing separatist movements than ever, as they have the potential to both be
throughout the world vying to gain indepen- significantly be affected by the changes occurring
dence, the case of Greenland stands out due to in the region, and the potential to create a new
the peaceful and cooperative nature of its long actor to shape the region itself. This article will lay
journey towards statehood. The prospect of an out the history and current shape of the indepen-
independent Greenland has become even more dence movement in Greenland, and examine a
important to the United States and other world few of the ways the environmental and economic
actors due to its critical place at one of the two changes are in turn affecting the movement.
junctures between the North American and
Eurasian Arctic. Greenland has ahead of it both
significant opportunity and risk as climate change

Early History and Culture

he history of Greenland as a part of the native Greenlanders to their traditional econom-
Kingdom of Denmark began in 1721 with ic pursuit of seal hunting while letting Danes
its official establishment of it as a colony monopolize the trade of the resulting furs.4 One
and the emergence of several colonies along notable difference was the focus on continuing
the coast.2 However, indigenous Inuit peoples education of the indigenous language as well, as
occupied the island well before the arrival of the it was thought this was the best way to spread
Danes. The concept of a Greenlandic indigenous Christianity throughout the land.5 This would be
identity only coalesced with the arrival of the key when the first “Kalaaliussuseq” debates
“wallunaat,” white people, and the Danes who emerged on what it meant to be a Greenlander,
effectively made themselves the “Naalagaat,” as ultimately it would be fluency in the indige-
decision makers.3 The Danes embodied many nous language that became the marker for the
traditional aspects of discrimination common for Greenlandic ethnic identity.6
the colonial period, including largely restricting

Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present 1

History of Colonial Governance

hile during the initial colonial period nance began to emerge. A catalyzing event was
from 1721 Greenland was directly Denmark’s vote to join the European Economic
governed by the Danish Govern- Community (EEC) in 1973. In Greenland, over
ment, in the middle of the 19th century, the first 70% of voters rejected the proposal to join out of
vestiges of local participation and governance fears of European boats flooding their fisheries,
emerged. These took the form of assemblies but this was not enough to outweigh the support
where elected managers had some minimal local for joining in Denmark.12 That same year, the first
authority.7 Greenlandic governance was further commission on the concept of home rule, the
expanded in 1911 with the creation of numerous Home Rule Committee, was set up by Green-
local councils and two provincial councils. The landic authorities. Following a proposal in 1975
local councils had authority over administering and three years of negotiation, the Greenland
social assistance, and maintaining public order Home Rule Arrangement was accepted by the
and the rule of law while the provincial councils Danish Parliament (the Folketing) and the people
had a slightly broader authority to discuss issues of Greenland.13 Under the Greenland Home Rule
and bring them before the Danish authorities.8 In Act of 1978, two bodies, the Landsting and the
1925, municipal councils were created to pro- Landsstyre, were set up to function as the legis-
mote Greenlandic businesses and labor.9 During lative assembly and executive respectively.14 The
the Second World War, Greenland experienced a Act also acknowledged the people’s of Greenland
period of separation due to the German takeover “fundamental rights in respect of Greenland’s
of Denmark and the subsequent US control of natural resources,” a statement which, while
the territory. This separation led to increased ex- recognizing the importance of natural resource
pectations for self-governance, and would serve to the people of Greenland, failed to actually
as the initial catalyst for much of the change to transfer ownership or control.15 The Danish Gov-
come. ernment was noted as having the authority to
regulate the “preliminary study, prospecting and
These various councils were consolidated in 1951
exploitation of those resources.”16 Greenlandic
into a new system of municipal councils and a
was also declared to be the official language in
single provincial council that acted as the first
the act, with the provision that Danish was to be
form of self-governance that was responsible for
thoroughly taught as well and be available for use
the entirety of Greenland. While the council had
in official documents.17
the ability to act in an advisory capacity to Danish
authorities in Greenland, it had very limited pow- At this point the Greenlandic authorities were not
er to actually govern within Greenland.10 In the given the right to independently conduct foreign
1970’s, certain governing authorities underwent affairs and were in fact obligated to abide by
the process of being transferred to Greenlandic the treaty and other international obligations of
municipalities for the first time.11 However, at Denmark. However, this did not mean Greenland
the same time, the first real fissures in gover- was entirely restricted to following Denmark’s

2 Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present

lead in international matters, as they had the right land officially gained control of all three branches
to demand a representative in Danish diplomatic of government, as it was authorized to establish
offices in countries where Greenland had special courts of law with the authority to “exercise
commercial interests. Additionally, Greenland judicial power in Greenland in all fields of re-
was also given the right to seek permission to sponsibility”.21 While Greenland remains under
engage in international negotiations of impor- the Danish constitution, it now has the ability to
tance to Greenland’s commercial life.18 In 1982, a determine cases and set judicial precedent for
52% majority voted in a referendum to leave the areas governed by the Inatsisartut. Greenland
EEC. While the vote was not binding, over the also gained increased ability to control its own
course of several years, the “Greenland Treaty” revenue streams while still maintaining its sup-
was negotiated between Greenland, Denmark port from the Danish Government, as it agreed
and the EEC whereby Greenland was no longer to provide an annual subsidy of 3,439.6 million
a part of the Danish membership of the EEC and Danish Kroner, adjusted annually for inflation, that
instead joined the treaty concerning the commu- is slowly phased out at a 1-2 ratio as the Green-
nity of Overseas Countries and Territories.19 This land Self-Government increases its revenue from
gave Greenland access to the European free-mar- mineral resource activities.22 However, the most
ket on the condition of appropriate opening of its important sections of the Act came in two short
fisheries to Europe. Under the treaty, Greenland sections at the very end, as Section 20 declares
also continued receiving social and structural Greenlandic to be the official language in Green-
funds from the European Commission20 land, with no provision for Danish, and Section 21
delineates the right of the peoples of Greenland
The next development was the establishment
to pursue independence. The act came into force
of the Greenland Self-Government Act in 2009,
on June 21, 2009, a day that is now celebrated
which further enhanced the domestic powers of
as a national holiday.
Greenland’s government. Under the Act, Green-

Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present 3

The Language Dilemma

n important question to be answered en that place, primarily Danish, are thus subject
here is why language has become such to the securitization process outlined in the
an important issue for Greenlandic sover- Copenhagen School of thought where they are
eignty and independence. Language has become labelled and accepted as security threats in order
a significant issue in Greenland over the course to justify the use of extraordinary measures. The
of the preceding decade due to the way in which integration of Danish into daily life is presented
it has become the ethnic identity marker for who as a threat to the cultural security of Greenland.23
qualifies as Greenlandic. Furthermore, as Green- The threat on a societal level is manifested as
land approaches independence, the decisions an impediment to the relevancy of Greenlandic
made around official state support of languages speaking society. If Danish remains an important
will have significant impact on the political and element of government and developed business,
economic nature of a future Greenland. it can lead to discrimination against monolingual
Greenlanders, the very people the concept of a
As stated previously, in the early part of the 20th
sovereign Greenland is built around.
century, the Greenlandic language, Kalaallit, be-
came the marker for determining ethnic identity However, the apparent solution, restricting the
instead of other cultural practices such as seal use of Danish in government and other settings,
hunting. Today, this has led to a massive value leads to problems itself, as it would conflict with
being placed on the position and use of the Ka- the ideals of a civic democracy that have come to
laallit in society. Languages that appear to threat- be ingrained in Greenlandic political life. In fact,

4 Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present

the two concepts that Greenland is built on, that foreign language” in order to bring Greenland
of an ethno-cultural democracy and civil democ- more in line with the UN Children’s Convention
racy, are directly in conflict with one another.24 on Children’s Rights and encourage the study
For Greenland to protect the cultural identity of of internationally used languages.26 Later in the
its society, it may feel the need to take measures coalition agreement, when discussing integra-
to protect the use of Greenlandic from Danish. tion of individuals into Greenland, it is noted that
However, to do so would break with the com- efforts are to be made to make this integration
monly accepted norms of modern liberal democ- available to Danish and English speakers.27 Based
racy, that it cannot restrict the rights or means on these indicators, it is likely that English has
of citizens to express themselves in the manner been chosen as a middle ground between the
of their choosing.25 Additionally, the restriction cultural issues that come with using Danish,
of Danish would likely be an impediment to the and the isolation issues that come with focusing
economy, as Denmark is key to Greenland’s solely on Kalallit. By promoting the use of English
economy. Any language restriction around Danish as the primary foreign language, a language that
would likely hamper the ability of private and pub- is importantly not historically associated with the
lic actors on both sides to conduct business with exclusion of Kalallit from public life, Greenland is
the other. This debate is unlikely to be solved rap- still able to promote language skills that encour-
idly, and will most likely continue to be an issue age and enable international business engage-
for Greenland no matter its sovereignty status. ment on the island.

Recent efforts by the parties forming the 2018

coalition government have indicated that efforts
are underway to explore a third option: the
promotion of English. In the Coalition Agreement
following the elections of 2018, the parties set as
a goal working towards making English the “first

Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present 5

Domestic Relationship with Denmark

he relationship between the self-gov- shown a unique tendency in recent years to
erning authorities in Greenland and the demonstrate unpredictably when voting in refer-
Danish Government can be considered endums on national issues, and the potential for
incredibly positive, especially in comparison with the population of Greenland to reject an agreed
other regions seeking autonomy and/or inde- upon independence deal cannot be discounted.
pendence such as Catalonia. While the Danish Recent examples of such unexpected referen-
authorities certainly engaged in oppressive dum results include the Brexit vote in the United
colonial practices during the first period of Danish Kingdom, and the referendum on the peace
control, beginning in the 1950s with the reorga- agreement between the government of Colom-
nization of the self-governance council system bia and FARC. Any rejection of an agreed upon in-
in Greenland, there has existed an increasingly dependence deal by the people in a referendum
collaborative nature between the two authorities. would significantly set back negotiations and
While Denmark has generally kept control of strain the relationship between the Greenlandic
the conduct of international affairs and security and Danish negotiators. The risk from a rejection
matters, even in these areas they have demon- is similar for the Inatsisartut and Folketing, but
strated a willingness to work with Greenlandic such risk also extends into the negotiation period
authorities. Under the 2009 Self-Rule Agreement, for these bodies. Elected bodies in Europe have
Greenland was given the authority to conduct proven in recent years to be undergoing a na-
negotiations on issues exclusively concerning the tionalist and populist surge. Should such a wave
island.28 Although Denmark retains the right to of politicians be present in either or both bodies
conduct negotiations and conclude international during negotiations on independence, it would
agreements, this is a significant level of authority likely lead to significantly impaired negotiations
in international matters for what is effectively an and perhaps completely stall the independence
autonomous region within Denmark. process. For these reasons, the risks inherent to
the independence process must be fully appreci-
The greatest risk to the relationship in the years
ated and accounted for before it is initiated.
ahead is the possibility of Greenland seeking
independence. While such a possibility is likely to The current political makeup of both the Inatsis-
not occur until significantly into the future, Green- artut and the Folketing lends itself to a continu-
land retains the right to seek independence at ing positive trend in relations between the two
any time. Furthermore, any agreement must be countries. The Premier of Greenland, as of the
approved not only by referendum in Greenland, publication date, is Kim Kielson of the Siumut
but also by the Inatsisartut (Greenlandic Parlia- party. While the Siumut party supports seeking
ment) as well as the Folketing (Danish Parlia- independence, their position does not appear
ment).29 Each of these elements poses a unique to be one of a radical pursuit of separation from
set of risks and potential fault lines in the rela- Denmark. Their page on the subject, roughly
tionship should Greenland seek independence. translated, is titled “We Work for your Country
On the level of the referendum, populations have to be a Self State.”30 The entire first section of

6 Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present

the page is dedicated to promoting Siumut’s ipation is also explicitly stated as a policy.33 This
participation in bringing about home rule and self indicates an appreciation for the inherent risks
government. The party then spends the next two mentioned above that come with the process of
sentences calling for a “society [that] has the seeking the final step of independence. With the
right to decide on its own circumstances” and ten year anniversary of self-governance occur-
“that our country becomes an autonomous state ring in 2019, and considering the forty year gap
and that in all our circumstances we take full between the introduction of home rule and self-
responsibility - without being ruled by an outside rule, it is likely that Greenlandic institutions are
person who sees himself as chieftains.”31 As far still gaining experience and knowledge in their
as calls for independence go, these could be new areas of responsibility and will be opposed
considered relatively muted. to immediately seeking independence until they
are comfortable with the governing authorities
In the coalition agreement signed by the major
they already possess.
parties in May of 2018, actually achieving inde-
pendence is not mentioned as an immediate While the subject of Greenland and its sovereign-
goal.. Instead, the document refers to certain ty is not mentioned on the website of the Ven-
goals such as cultural development and eco- stre party, which leads the ruling coalition in the
nomic education as steps for a society on the Folketing, there is at least one positive indication
path towards independence.32 Collaboration with that support remains in the Danish Government
Denmark in achieving increasing levels of partic- for increased levels of Greenlandic sovereignty.
Specifically, it is that the current Prime Minister
of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, was in fact
the prime minister at the time that the Self-Gov-
ernance Act came into effect. Thus, while he was
not leading Denmark during the majority of the
negotiation period, he was nevertheless prime
minister when the law was passed in the Folket-
ing and was present in Greenland when it came
into effect. This means he has a clear history of
working with Greenland on its sovereignty issues
in a positive manner.

The Premier of Greenland, as of the publication date,

is Kim Kielson of the Siumut party

Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present 7

Greenlandic Political Parties and
Their Independence Positions

his section will examine not only the sov- tees that come along with NATO. Greenland has
ereignty policy of modern political parties a longstanding security relationship with NATO
in Greenland, but also their vision of what and the US that actually goes back to before the
an independent Greenland might look like. founding of the organization to the Second World
War. This vision for Greenland’s future foreign
As aforementioned the current head of the coali-
policy also prevailed in the previously mentioned
tion government of the Inatsisartut is the Siumut
coalition agreement, where NATO membership is
Party. Siumut currently controls 10 out of the 31
explicitly mentioned as an objective for a sover-
seats in the Inatsisartut. The Siumut party sup-
eign Greenland.37
ports independence, but has a non-radical stance
on the subject in that it views independence as The largest opposition party in Greenland is Inuit
a process, rather than a goal to be immediately Ataqatigiit, which controls 8 out of the 31 seats
accomplished. Therefore, while it has been in in the Inatsisartut. Like Siumut, Inuit Ataqatiggit
power for several years, it has not called for a generally appears to have a measured view of
referendum on independence. Siumut’s vision independence, supporting it as a concept but not
for an independent Greenland is modeled off pushing for its immediate introduction due to the
of the Scandinavian system with slight differ- potential consequences of such an action.38 The
ences. Centrally, Siumut is looking to create a party does push for a greater role for Greenland-
“welfare-based society” similar to that which ers in negotiations that impact the country. The
exists already in Denmark, Norway, Sweden Inuit Ataqatiggit appears to diverge significantly
and Finland with similarly modern conception from Siumut in its view of the Greenlandic lan-
of rights, freedoms and opportunities.34 Siumut guage and membership to NATO. On the subject
also strongly supports the use and promotion of of language, while Siumut focuses on solely
Kalaallit. This includes the goal of having Kalaallit promoting the Greenlandic language, Inuit Ataqa-
be the official language of all public companies tiggit’s mission statement declares its intention
by 2025.35 On a foreign policy level, Siumut’s to not only promote kalaallit, but Danish and
vision for Greenland could actually be considered English as well.39 Inuit Ataqatiggit also declares
closest to that of Norway’s. This is largely due to in its mission statement that under its vision,
their desire to remain outside of the European Greenland would never participate in any war.40
Union, but become a member of the North At- Such a policy would likely preclude membership
lantic Treaty Organization.36 The reasoning behind in NATO due to the requirements under Article 5
both of these decisions is similar between the of the treaty. A strict interpretation of this section
two countries. Both are attempting to gain a could also potentially lead to the loss of military
higher level of protection for their fisheries from access to Thule Airbase in northern Greenland
EU regulations on shared fishing access, while for the United States, an asset that would not be
gaining the advantages of the security guaran- easily replaced.

8 Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present

The second largest opposition party is the of an online presence. Partii Naleraq is the 4th
Demokraatit party, and in comparison to the two largest party in the Inatsisartut and the second
leading parties, it takes the most conservative largest coalition party that was formed in 2014
approach to the sovereignty issues facing Green- as a breakaway party from Siumut.43 While the
land. It notes on its party platform that it sup- party controlled 4 seats, one of their members is
ports self-determination, but it views indepen- switching his party allegiance to Siumut, leaving
dence as a much more distant goal with multiple the party with 3 seats.44 Their party document is
obstacles and steps to make it through before only in Kalaallit. The third largest coalition partner
that point.41 The party also differs significantly is the Atassut party, which controls 2 seats. It
from the first two parties in that it does not does not have an online presence. The fourth and
envision creating a welfare state based off of the smallest coalition party is Nunatta Qitornai, which
Nordic model, but rather a liberal open market controls 1 seat. It also does not have an online
economy characterized by minimal government presence. The final and smallest opposition party
intervention.42 is Suleqatigiissitsisut which controls a single seat
in parliament. It in fact has an online presence,
The following four are the remaining parties with
where it generally supports cooperation with
representation in the Inatsisartut. Their positions
Denmark over independence.45
on sovereignty issues are less clear due to either
only having documents in Greenlandic or a lack

Greenland’s top leaders square off in a televised debate on April 21, two days before the island’s
general election this Tuesday, April 24: Kim Kielsen, leader of the social democratic Siumut party,
and Sara Olsvig of the left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit party. Both are expected to win seats in the assem-

Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present 9

The Constitutional Commission

he Constitutional Commission was estab- responsibilities to Greenland, it would begin the
lished by the Inatsisartut in 2017 to study process of creating an indigenous/homegrown
the establishment of a constitution for rule-of-law structure native to Greenland. The
Greenland and represents the next step in the enactment of a constitution would most likely ne-
independence process for Greenland. The com- cessitate the creation of a high court system to
mission’s mission is to study such an implemen- adjudicate the interpretation of the law. The Inat-
tation in two parts. First, the implementation of sisartut and the Naalakkersuisut already function
a constitution while still within the Danish realm. as the legislature and executive respectively, and
The second stage being studying is the imple- the creation of a constitution would both codify
mentation of a constitution under a state of inde- those institutions outside of the Danish system
pendence. The legislation calling for the creation of law, and likely codify and require the new
of a constitutional commission apparently was high court system as well. The creation of such a
first proposed in the Inatsisartut all the way back supreme court type system would bring Green-
in 2011. The consideration of a constitution has land further in line with the western practice of
thus been in progress for a significant amount a three part governance structure split between
of the home rule period. The goal of drafting a an equally powerful legislature, executive and
constitution was reaffirmed by the most recent judicial system. Such a system could possibly
government in its coalition agreement.46 considered the next intermediate step towards
independence due to the increased number of
Under a situation whereby Greenland adopts a
institutions Greenland would gain control of and
constitution and it remains in the Danish realm
the further decreasing of Danish control over
but outside the structure of the Danish Constitu-
the island. However, it should be noted that
tion, Greenland would be best considered a state
Greenland is not limited from moving directly to
in free-association with Denmark, which could be
independence, as the committee is also charged
considered the next step towards independence
with examining how a constitution would look for
for Greenland. Based on the Constitutional Com-
and independent Greenland.
mission’s goals, this is the outcome that currently
appears the most likely. This situation could be In the event of a move directly to independence,
considered extremely analogous to the case of constitutional recommendations provided by the
the Cooke Islands which currently operate under commission would likely serve as the starting
free-association with New Zealand. Under such point between the Inatsisartut and the Folketing.
a structure, the Cooke Islands operate under its This is due to the fact that any “special relation-
own constitution, but receives an annual grant ship” desired by Denmark could be expected to
from New Zealand and generally is deferent on be embodied in constitutional law in Denmark. Is-
matters of international affairs and security.47 sues of citizenship of Danes in Greenland would
While this seems unlikely to change the over- likely also require language to be included in the
all tempo of shift in domestic and international constitution in order to resolve the issue prior

10 Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present

to any final declaration of independence. Other whether Greenland will abrogate the ability to go
issues that would have to be settled by the con- to war as well as language and cultural rights.
stitutional committee that would not necessarily
be subject to negotiation with Denmark include

City in Greenland

Parliment in Denmark

Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present 11


12 Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present

US-Greenland Relationship

he US has maintained a positive rela- difficult position.49 In 1968 a B-52 bomber car-
tionship with Greenland through both its rying nuclear weapons crashed on the island. It
relations with Denmark, and the major was later revealed that local workers involved in
US military presence on the island with Thule the cleanup had not been issued protective gear
Air Force Base. As alluded to earlier, the United despite the presence of radioactive material. The
States occupied Greenland following the Ger- Danish Government also eventually discovered
man invasion of Denmark in 1940. Following the as an outgrowth of the crash that the US had
war, the US and Denmark signed an agreement stored nuclear weapons in Greenland despite the
in 1951 which permitted the US to establish express prohibition against the stationing of nu-
bases in the region.48 This ultimately led to the clear weapons on Danish territory.50 While these
establishment of Thule Air Force Base in northern incidents marked major lows in the US-Green-
Greenland. Thule AFB is the northernmost US land relationship, the trend in relations otherwise
military outpost, and hosts important ballistic during the Cold War and into the present has
missile warning and space tracking facilities. US been generally positive. The US-Greenland rela-
facilities in Greenland have been a major element tionship remains relatively positive, with Thule Air
in two incidents during the Cold War. In 1958, the Base continuing to be the centerpiece connec-
US constructed Ice Camp Century, an experi- tion between the two countries. Over the course
mental base close to Thule AFB that was pow- of the next several years, based on the goals
ered by a nuclear reactor and built without the of the new coalition government, it is likely that
permission of the Danish government. Nuclear Greenland will take an increasing, and potentially
weapons and nuclear power by extension was a exclusive, role in negotiating and determining
sensitive topic in Denmark at the time, and the the terms of the U.S. military presence on the
unilateral action put the Danish government in a island.51

Thule Air Force Base

Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present 13

Hans Island Dispute and Arctic
Territorial Claims

ans Island is a small island that sits in Iceland and Norway.55 The outcome of these will
the middle of the Nares Strait between likely be significant due to the projected reserves
Greenland and Canada. The island per- of oil, natural gas, and other mineral resources
fectly straddles the maritime boundary line that predicted to exist in the Arctic seabed, as the
was set by treaty between the two countries in EEZ claims will determine the ownership and
1973. While the issue was known at the time, revenue control of these resources. Furthermore,
the two countries were unable to resolve own- the competing claims carry with them an en-
ership of the island.52 As such, it remains one of hanced risk of conflict should various nations de-
two territorial disputes Greenland is involved in. cide to not abide by the ruling of the committee
While the question of the ownership of the island and attempt to contest control over the waters.
remains unresolved between the two countries, This risk is greatest with the Russian Federation,
the parties involved have treated the issue with but the possibility of a dispute with Canada, Ice-
relative humor, and little more than pride is land and Norway cannot be ignored.
attached to the issue as the issue of maritime
It is unknown when the Commission will make
boundaries in the straight has already been
its decision regarding the claims. However, the
settled by treaty in 1973 as already mentioned.
Commission only has the authority to make
Beginning in 1984, the two nations have engaged
recommendations regarding the outer limits of
in a humorous diplomatic tit for tat, whereby sol-
continental shelves and the corresponding mar-
diers or officials from one country visit the island
itime boundaries. Therefore, the Arctic nations
to raise their national flag and leave a bottle of
that have submitted claims will need to negotiate
either Danish schnapps or Canadian whisky.53
a diplomatic agreement following the release of
The issue of the continental shelf dispute is the Commission’s findings in order to bring the
slightly more serious and more consequential issue to resolution. It should be noted that Rus-
for Greenland. Under Article 76 and 77 of the sia and Norway as recently as 2010 successfully
UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, states resolved their maritime boundary dispute, setting
have the right to extend their maritime exclu- a precedent for peaceful and diplomatic deter-
sive economic zone out to the boundary of their mination of maritime boundaries in the Arctic.56
continental shelf.54 In August of 2016, Greenland In the likely event of a multi-lateral agreement
and Denmark jointly submitted a claim to a large becoming necessary to resolve the claims, the
section of the Arctic Ocean that extended all the Arctic Council will likely provide a useful forum
way to the opposite Russian EEZ boundary to for engagement not only between the claimant
the Commission on the Limits of the Continen- parties, but the other Arctic nations to engage in
tal Shelf. This claim overlapped with competing the process as well.
claims from the Russian Federation, Canada,

14 Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present

1. Taylor, Adam “What South Sudan can teach Catalonia about creating a new country” The Washington
Post, October 2, 2017 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/09/29/9-new-coun-

2. Powel, Richard C.; Dodds, Klaus “Polar Geopolitics?: Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes” Eward
Elgar Publishing, 2014, 264

3. Pram Gad, Ulrik “What kind of nation state will Greenland be? Securitization theory as a strategy for ana-
lyzing identity politics” Aalborg University 2017, 106

4. Ibid, 106

5. Ibid, 106

6. Ibid, 106

7. “The Greenland-Danish Self-Government Commission’s Report on Self-Government in Greenland Execu-

tive Summary” April 2008, 2

8. Ibid, 2

9. Ibid, 2

10. “The Greenland-Danish Self-Government Commission’s Report on Self-Government in Greenland Execu-

tive Summary” April 2008, 2

11. Ibid, 2

12. Adler-Nissen, Rebecca; Pram Gad, Ulrik “European Integration and Postcolonial Sovereignty Games:
The EU Overseas” 220 https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=uU-QyS8_5zwC&oi=fnd&p-

13. “The Greenland-Danish Self-Government Commission’s Report on Self-Government in Greenland Execu-

tive Summary” April 2008, 2

14. The Greenland Home Rule Act Section 1 (2)

15. The Greenland Home Rule Act Section 8 (1)

16. The Greenland Home Rule Act Section 8 (2)

17. The Greenland Home Rule Act Section 9 (1)(2)

18. The Greenland Home Rule Act Section 16 (1)(2)

19. Adler-Nissen, Rebecca; Pram Gad, Ulrik “European Integration and Postcolonial Sovereignty Games: The
EU Overseas” 220-221

20. Ibid, 221

21. Act on Greenland Self-Government Section 1 (1)

22. Act on Greenland Self-Government Section 5 (1) Section 8 (1)

23. Pram Gad, Ulrik “What kind of nation state will Greenland be? Securitization theory as a strategy for ana-
lyzing identity politics” Aalborg University 2017, 113

Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present 15

24. Pram Gad, Ulrik “What kind of nation state will Greenland be? Securitization theory as a strategy for
analyzing identity politics” Aalborg University 2017, 112

25. Pram Gad, Ulrik “What kind of nation state will Greenland be? Securitization theory as a strategy for ana-
lyzing identity politics” Aalborg University 2017, 112

26. Coalition Agreement Sections 1, 18

27. Coalition Agreement Section 255

28. Act on Greenland Self-Government Section 11 (1) Section 12 (1)

29. Act on Greenland Self Governance Section 21 (3)

30. “VI ARBEJDER FOR AT VORT LAND BLIVER EN SELVSTÆNDIG STAT” Siumut https://siumut.gl/da/home/


32. “Koalitionsaftale 2018” Sections 187, 251 http://naalakkersuisut.gl/~/media/Nanoq/Files/Attached%20


33. “Koalitionsaftale 2018” Section 335


35. “DET GRØNLANDSKE FOLKS TRADITIONER/KULTUR” Siumut https://siumut.gl/da/home/parti/inuiat-


36. “UDENRIGSPOLITIK” Siumut https://siumut.gl/da/home/parti/nunanut-allanut-tunngasut-illersornissarlu/

37. “Koalitionsaftale 2018” Section 341

38. “Ilulissat Deklaration” Inuit Ataqatiggit 2017 http://ia.gl/google426c9ea506fcddea.html/gl/politik/deklara-


39. Ibid

40. “Ilulissat Deklaration” Inuit Ataqatiggit 2017

41. “PARTIPROGRAM” Demokraatit 2018 https://www.demokraatit.gl/partiprogram-2018/

42. Ibid

43. “Tidligere landsstyreformand Enoksen stifter nyt parti”Information January 9, 2014 https://www.informa-

44. “Partihopper Fleischer: Jeg er ikke den første i historien til at skifte parti” Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa May 22
2018 https://knr.gl/da/nyheder/jeg-er-ikke-den-f%C3%B8rste-i-historien-til-skifte-parti

45. “Principprogram” Samarbejdspartiet http://sulesam.gl/principprogram/

46. “Koalitionsaftale 2018” Section 335

47. Østergaard, Mikkel U. “The Greenlandic wish for independence: An investigation of the possibilities

16 Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present

within free association” 2017

48. “Defense of Greenland:Agreement Between the United Sates and the Kingdom of Denmark, April 27,
1951” The Avalon Project, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School, April 27, 1951 http://avalon.law.

49. “How the US built a mysterious military camp under the Greenland ice sheet” ScienceNordic December
19, 2017 http://sciencenordic.com/how-us-built-mysterious-military-camp-under-greenland-ice-sheet

50. Mitchel, Robert “Cataclysmic cargo: The hunt for four missing nuclear bombs after a B-52 crash” The
Washington Post, January 21 2018 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/01/21/

51. Coalition Agreement Section 342

52. Levin, Dan “Canada and Denmark Fight Over Island With Whisky and Schnapps” The New York Times
November 7 2016 https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/08/world/what-in-the-world/canada-denmark-hans-is

53. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Article 76, 77, http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_

54. “Greenland and Denmark present claims relating to the Continental Shelf to the United Nations in New
York” August 18, 2016 http://um.dk/en/news/newsdisplaypage/?newsid=3a2bd941-d477-4df9-8ad7-ef-

55. “Treaty between the Kingdom of Norway and the Russian Federation concerning Maritime Delimitation
and Cooperation in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean” https://www.regjeringen.no/globalassets/upload/

Greenland and Sovereignty: Past and Present 17


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