June 15, 2022
Canada and Denmark settle dispute over uninhabited Arctic island
The two countries agreed to divide a small, 1.2 square-kilometer (0.75 square-mile) uninhabited island. The agreement ends an obscure, nearly 50-yearlong dispute between the two NATO allies
Canada and Denmark formally divided a small, uninhabited Arctic island Tuesday, bringing to a close a nearly 50-yearlong dispute over its status.
The diplomatic act is largely symbolic as the two countries are both NATO allies and neither has moved to militarize the island, known as Hans Island or Tartupaluk in Greenlandic. The agreement will be signed later Tuesday.
Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said, “It sends a clear signal that it is possible to resolve border disputes.”
He added resolving the previously amicable impasse is “an important signal now that there is much war and unrest in the world.“
Canada’s Minister of Northern Affairs, Dan Vandal, said, “I think it’s very positive given our world situation today.”
In 1973, the two sides agreed that a border would be drawn through the Nares Strait, midway between Greenland and Canada. Though the friction over Hans Island, some 1,100 kilometers south of the North Pole, remained unresolved.
Hans Island is an equal distance between Greenland and Ellesmere Island in Canada.
That year, negotiations resumed as former Danish Prime Minister, later NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called for an end to “the flag war.”
More significantly, it is a sign of the Arctic NATO states moving closer together to resolve problematic squabbles following Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine. In 2018, both sides agreed to a working group to move beyond an “agree to disagree” policy over the island’s status.