Svalbard Treaty

Svalbard Treaty

The Treaty concerning Spitsbergen of February 9 1920 declared the arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen (now called Svalbard) an overseas part of the Kingdom of Norway (article 1). However, as part of the compromise with the signatories, despite Norwegian sovereignty not all Norwegian law applies. The treaty only partly demilitarizes Svalbard. All signatories were given equal rights to engage in commercial activities (mainly coal mining) on the islands. Currently (2007) Norway and Russia are utilising this right.

The original signatories include Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, [On Dutch interest and historical claims see Muller, Hendrik, ‘Nederland’s historische rechten op Spitsbergen’, "Tijdschrift van het Koninklijk Nederlandsch Aardrijkskundig Genootschap" 2e serie, deel 34 (1919) no. 1, 94-104.] Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom (including overseas dominions) and the United States. The Soviet Union signed in 1924 and Germany in 1925. There are now over 40 signatories.

Of the original signatories Japan was the last to ratify the treaty on 2 August 1925. Subsequently, on 14 August 1925, the treaty came into power. [ [ Svalbard Treaty and Ratification] (in Norwegian) ] Norway then took over sovereign governorship and immediately enacted a series of environmental protection measures.

There has been a long-running dispute, primarily between Norway and the Soviet Union (and now Russia) over fishing rights in the region.cite book | author = Alex G. Oude Elferink | title = The Law of Maritime Boundary Delimitation: A Case Study of the Russian Federation | publisher = Martinus Nijhoff | year = 1994 | pages = pp. 230–231] cite book | author = Willy Østreng | chapter = Norway in Northern Waters | title = Northern Waters: Security and Resource Issues | editor = Clive Archer & David Scrivener | year = 1986 | publisher = Routledge | pages = pp. 165–167] In 1977, Norway established a regulated fishery in a convert|200|nmi|km|sing=on zone around Svalbard (though it did not close the zone to foreign access). It argues that the treaty's provisions of equal economic access only apply to the islands and their territorial waters, but not to the wider Exclusive Economic Zone; in addition, it argues that the continental shelf is a part of mainland Norway's continental shelf, and should be governed by the 1958 Continental Shelf Convention. The Soviet Union and now Russia dispute this position and consider the Svalbard Treaty to apply to the entire zone; talks were held in 1978 in Moscow, but did not resolve the issue. Finland supports Norway's position on the matter, while most of the rest of the treaty's signatories have expressed no official position.


According to [|to this] outdated list (sorted alphabetically):

* Afghanistan (1925-11-23)
* Albania (1930-04-29)
* Argentina (1927-05-06)
* Australia (1923-12-29)
* Austria (1930-03-12)
* Belgium (1925-05-27)
* Bulgaria (1925-10-20)
* Canada (1923-12-29)
* Chile (1928-12-17)
* China (1925-07-01)
* Denmark (1924-01-24)
* Dominican Republic (1927-02-03)
* Egypt (1925-09-13)
* Estonia (1930-04-07)
* Finland (1925-08-12)
* France (1924-09-06)
* Germany (1925-11-16)
* Greece (1925-10-21)
* Hungary (1927-10-29)
* Iceland (1994-05-31)
* India (1923-12-29)
* Italy (1924-08-06)
* Japan (1925-04-02)
* Monaco (1925-06-22)
* Netherlands (1920-09-03)
* New Zealand (1923-12-29)
* Norway (1924-10-08)
* Poland (1931-09-02)
* Portugal (1927-10-24)
* Romania (1925-07-10)
* Russia (1935-05-07)
* Saudi Arabia (1925-08-14)
* South Africa (1923-12-29)
* Spain (1925-11-12)
* Sweden (1924-09-15)
* Switzerland (1925-06-30)
* USA (1924-04-02)
* United Kingdom (1923-12-29)
* Venezuela (1928-02-08)

See also

* List of treaties




*cite paper
last = Moe
first = Arild
coauthors = Schei, Peter Johan
title = The High North – Challenges and Potentials.
version = Prepared for French-Norwegian Seminar at IFRI, Paris, 24 November 2005
publisher = Fridtjof Nansen Institute (
date = 18-11-2005
url =
accessdate = 2008-08-11

External links

* [ Treaty between Norway, The United States of America, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Ireland and the British overseas Dominions and Sweden concerning Spitsbergen signed in Paris 9th February 1920.] (In Norwegian, English and French, click "Original tekst".)
* [ Treaty Concerning the Archipalego of Spitsbergen]
* [ Svalbard Treaty and Ratification] (in Norwegian)
* [ Svalbard – an important arena] - Speech by Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, 15 April 2006.

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