“Demilitarisation and neutralisation of Svalbard: how has the Svalbard regime been able to meet the changing security realities during almost 100 years of existence?”. This is the title of a recent article by researchers Timo Koivurova and Filip Holiencin. The article assesses the experiences of the nearly one hundred years since the adoption of the Svalbard Treaty.
In Article 9 of the Svalbard Treaty it is briefly provided that:
Subject to the rights and duties resulting from the admission of Norway to the League of Nations, Norway undertakes not to create nor to allow the establishment of any naval base in the territories specified in Article 1 and not to construct any fortification in the said territories, which may never be used for warlike purposes.
Koivurova and Holiencin examine the double ambition of a peaceful utilization of the islands while permitting industrial activities by many different states parties. The Svalbard Treaty granted sovereignty over the archipelago to a relatively small state such as Norway, trying thus to keep the islands out of the grip of great powers. The researchers discuss the absence of a dispute solving mechanism in the treaty as well as the increasing commercial as well as geopolitical interests in the region.
The article is Published in Polar Record, Vol 53, Issue 2 (2017).
An interview with Koivurova and Holiencin for High North News can be found here.
The researchers are involved in the research project “Demilitarisation in an Increasingly Militarised World. International perspectives in a multilevel framework – the case of the Åland Islands” which is pursued in a cooperation between the Åland Islands Peace Institute and the University of Lapland with funding from the Kone foundation.
For more information on the project see here.
For more information you can also contact project leader Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark (sia[at]peace.ax)
Picture from a research seminar on the demilitarisation and neutralisation of Svalbard with Filip Holiencin (second from left) as one of the speakers, held in Mariehamn 15.3.2017.