The paper demonstrates how the evolution of international law on colonial and indigenous peoples, ... Read more
The paper demonstrates how the evolution of international law on colonial and indigenous peoples, in particular evolving rights to sovereignty over natural resources, shaped the changing relationship between Greenland and the rest of the Danish Realm. Greenland today is in a unique position in international law, enjoying an extremely high degree of self-government. This paper explores the history, current status and future of Greenland through the lens of international law, to show how international obligations both colour its relationship with the Kingdom of Denmark and influence its approaches to resource development internally. It considers the invisibility of the Inuit population in the 1933 Eastern Greenland case that secured Danish sovereignty over the entire territory. It then turns to Denmark’s registration of Greenland as a non-self-governing territory (colony) in 1946 before Greenland’s-purported decolonisation in 1953 and the deficiencies of that process. In the second part of the 20th century, Denmark began to recognise the Greenland Inuit as an indigenous people before a gradual shift towards recognition of the Greenlanders as a people in international law, entitled to self-determination, including the right to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources. This peaked with the Self-Government Act of 2009. The paper will then go on to assess competing interpretations of the Self-Government Act of 2009 according to which the Greenland self-government is the relevant decision-making body for an increasing number of fields of competence including, since 1 January 2010, the governance of extractive industries. Some, including members of the Greenland self-government, argue that the Self-Government Act constitutes full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP 2007), but this view is not universally shared. The paper also considers the status and rights of two Greenland minorities: the North Greenlanders (Inughuit) and the East Greenlanders, each of whom has distinct histories, experiences of colonisation, dialects (or languages) and cultural traditions. While the Kingdom of Denmark accepts the existence of only one indigenous people, namely, the Inuit of Greenland, this view is increasingly being challenged in international fora, including the UN human rights treaty bodies, as the two minorities are in some cases considered distinct indigenous peoples. Their current position in Greenland as well as in a future fully independent Greenland is examined, and the rights that they hold against the Greenland self-government as well as the Kingdom of Denmark explored. Greenland’s domestic regime for governance of non-renewable natural resources (principally mining and hydrocarbons) is briefly analysed and compared with international standards, with a particular emphasis on public participation. The paper assesses the extent to which it complies with the standards in key international instruments.
This comprehensive text explains the relationship between the Arctic and the wider world through ... Read more
This comprehensive text explains the relationship between the Arctic and the wider world through the lenses of international relations, international law, and political economy. It is an essential resource for any student or scholar seeking a clear and succinct account of a region of ever-growing importance to the international community. Highlights include:
Broad coverage of national and human security, Arctic economies, international political economy, human rights, the rights of indigenous people, the law of the sea, navigation, and environmental governance.
A clear review of current climate-related change.
Emphasis on the sources of cooperation in the Arctic through international relations theory and law.
Examination of the Arctic in the broader global context, illustrating its inextricable links to global processes.
Greenland’s independence to some extent pivots on the exploitation of natural resources, includin ... Read more
Greenland’s independence to some extent pivots on the exploitation of natural resources, including offshore hydrocarbon resources. The exploitation of oil and gas is inherently hazardous and offshore activities and marine oil transports bring a risk of a serious pollution incident affecting the interests of other States. The long-established principle of full reparation for injuries indicates that should a major accident occur under an independent Greenland’s watch, Greenland would bear a potentially unlimited liability to compensate affected parties. However, for a post-colonial State of under 60,000 souls, an overwhelming compensation claim could be disastrous: indeed, it could be sufficiently overwhelming as to compromise the rights of the Greenlandic people to self-determination and permanent sovereignty over their own resources, as well as a number of fundamental human rights found in international customary and conventional law. This chapter examines how such a conflict between the principle of full reparation and the rights of peoples to self-determination might be resolved in practice in light of the ILC Articles on State Responsibility, international customary law and ius cogens, international human rights treaties and the few pertinent, though limited and distinguishable, cases that have been decided to date. The chapter concludes by finding that the principle of self-determination has a peremptory status and thus in the event of conflict with the principle of full reparation, the latter must be considered subservient. However, there may be scope for greater flexibility in the mode and timescale of reparation than in its quantum.