The Spitsbergen Treaty of February 9, 1920, recognises the full and absolute sovereignty of Norway over the arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen (now called Svalbard). The exercise of sovereignty is, however, subject to certain stipulations, and 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.
There were nine original High Contracting Parties, including: United States, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (including overseas dominions of Ireland, Canada, Australia, India, South Africa and New Zealand). Several additional nations signed within the next five years before the treaty came into force, including the Soviet Union in 1924 and Germany and China 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 force. 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. In 1977, Norway established a regulated fishery in a 200-nautical-mile (370 km) 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 (4 nautical miles at the time), 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 Spitsbergen Treaty to apply to the entire zone; talks were held in 1978 in Moscow, but did not resolve the issue. Finland and Canada support Norway's position, while most of the other treaty signatories have expressed no official position. The relevant parts of the treaty go as follows:
Ships and nationals of all the High Contracting Parties shall enjoy equally the rights of fishing and hunting in the territories specified in Article 1 and in their territorial waters. (from Article 2)
They shall be admitted under the same conditions of equality to the exercise and practice of all maritime, industrial, mining or commercial enterprises both on land and in the territorial waters, and no monopoly shall be established on any account or for any enterprise whatever. (from Article 3)
According to this outdated list (sorted alphabetically); dates below reflect when the signatory nation ratified the treaty, which was often years after a national official actually first signed on:
|‚ÜźWikisource:Historical documents||Spitsbergen Treaty
|The Treaty concerning Spitsbergen of 9 February
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 (2008) Norway and Russia are
utilising this right.
The original signatories include Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, 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. Norway then took over sovereign governorship and immediately enacted a series of environmental protection measures.
‚ÄĒExcerpted from Spitsbergen Treaty in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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.
The President of The United States of America; His Majesty the King of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India; His Majesty the King of Denmark; the President of the French Republic; His Majesty the King of Italy; His Majesty the Emperor of Japan; His Majesty the King of Norway; Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands; His Majesty the King of Sweden,
Desirous, while recognising the sovereignty of Norway over the Archipelago of Spitsbergen, including Bear Island, of seeing these territories provided with an equitable regime, in order to assure their development and peaceful utilisation,
Have appointed as their respective Plenipotentiaries with a view to concluding a Treaty to this effect:
The President of the United States of America:
His Majesty the King of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India:
for the Dominion of Canada:
for the Commomvealth of Australia:
for the Dominion of New Zealand:
for the Union of South Africa:
His Majesty the King of Denmark:
President of the French Republic:
His Majesty the King of Italy:
His Majesty the Emperor of Japan:
His Majesty the King of Norway:
Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands:
His Majesty the King of Sweden:
Who, having communicated their full powers, found in good and due form, have agreed as follows:
The High Contracting Parties undertake to recognise, subject to the stipulations of the present Treaty, the full and absolute sovereignty of Norway over the Archipelago of Spitsbergen, comprising, with Bear Island or Beeren-Eiland, all the islands situated between 10 ¬į and 35 ¬į longitude East of Greenwich and between 74 ¬į and 81 ¬į latitude North, especially West Spitsbergen, North-East Land, Barents Island, Edge Island, Wiche Islands, Hope Island or Hopen-Eiland, and Prince Charles Foreland, together with all islands great or small and rocks appertaining thereto (see annexed map).
Ships and nationals of all the High Contracting Parties shall enjoy equally the rights of fishing and hunting in the territories specified in Article 1 and in their territorial waters.
Norway shall be free to maintain, take or decree suitable measures to ensure the preservation and, if necessary, the reconstitution of the fauna and flora of the said regions, and their territorial waters; it being clearly understood that these measures shall always be applicable equally to the nationals of all the High Contracting Parties without any exemption, privilege or favour whatsoever, direct or indirect to the advantage of any one of them.
Occupiers of land whose rights have been recognised in accordance with the terms of Articles 6 and 7 will enjoy the exclusive right of hunting on their own land: (1) in the neighbourhood of their habita tions, houses, stores, factories and installations, constructed for the purpose of developing their property, under conditions laid down by the local police regulations; (2) within a radius of 10 kilometres round the headquarters of their place of business or works; and in both cases, subject always to the observance of regulations made by the Norwegian Government in accordance with the conditions laid down in the present Article.
The nationals of all the High Contracting Parties shall have equal liberty of access and entry for any reason or object whatever to the waters, fjords and ports of the territories specified in Article 1; subject to the observance of local laws and regulations, they may carry on there without impediment all maritime, industrial, mining and commercial operations on a footing of absolute equality.
They shall be admitted under the same conditions of equality to the exercice and practice of all maritime, industrial, mining or commercial enterprises both on land and in the territorial waters, and no monopoly shall be established on any account or for any enterprise whatever.
Notwithstanding any rules relating to coasting trade which may be in force in Norway, ships of the High Contracting Parties going to or coming from the territories specified in Article 1 shall have the right to put into Norwegian ports on their outward or homeward voyage for the purpose of taking on board or disembarking passengers or cargo going to or coming from the said territories, or for any other purpose.
It is agreed that in every respect and especially with regard to exports, imports and transit traffic, the nationals of all the High Contracting Parties, their ships and goods shall not be subject to any charges or restrictions whatever which are not borne by the nationals, ships or goods which enjoy in Norway the treatment of the most favoured nation; Norwegian natiolals, ships or goods being for this purpose assimilated to those of the other High Contracting Parties, and not reated more favourably in any respect.
No charge or restriction shall be imposed on the exportation of any goods to the territories of any of the Contracting Powers other or more onerous than on the exportation of similar goods to the territory of any other Contracting Power (including Norway) or to any other destination.
All public wireless telegraphy stations established or to be established by, or with the authorisation of, the Norwegian Government within the territories referred to in Article 1 shall always be open on a footing of absolute equality to communications from ships of all flags and from nationals of the High Contracting Parties, under the conditions laid down in the Wireless Telegraphy Convention of July 5, 1912, or in the subsequent International Convention which may be concluded to replace it.
Subject to international obligations arising out of a state of war, owners of landed property shall always be at liberty to establish and use for their own purposes wireless telegraphy installations, which shall be free to communicate on private business with fixed or moving wireless stations, including those on board ships and aircraft.
The High Contracting Parties recognise the utility of establishing an international meteorological station in the territories specified in Article 1, the organisation of which shall form the subject of a subsequent Convention.
Convensions shall also be concluded laying down the conditions under which scientific investigations may be conducted in the said territories.
Subject to the provisions of the present Article, acquired rights of nationals of the High Contracting Parties shall be recognised.
Claims arising from taking possession or from occupation of land before the signature of the present Treaty shall be dealt with in accordance with the Annex hereto, which will have the same force and effect as the present Treaty.
With regard to methods of acquisition, enjoyment and exercise of the right of owner ship of property, including mineral rights, in the territories specified in Article 1, Norway undertakes to grant to all nationals of the High Contracting Parties treatment based on complete equality and in confirmity with the stipulations of the present Treaty.
Expropriation may be resorted to only on grounds of public utility and on payment of proper compensation.
Norway undertakes to provide for the territories specified in Article 1 mining regulations which, especially from the point of view of imposts, taxes or charges of any kind, and of general or particular labour conditions, shall exclude all privileges, monopolies or favours for the benefit of the State or of the nationals of any one of the High Contracting Parties, including Norway, and shall guarantee to the paid staff of all categories the remuneration and protection necessary for their physical, moral and intellectual welfare.
Taxes, dues and duties levied shall be devoted exclusively to the said territories and shall not exceed what is required for the object in view.
So far, particularly, as the exportation of minerals is concerned, the Norwegian Government shall have the right to levy an export duty which shall not exceed 1 % of the maximum value of the minerals exported up to 100.000 tons, and beyond that quantity the duty will be proportionately diminished. The value shall be fixed at the end of the navigation season by calculating the average free on board price obtained.
Three months before the date fixed for their coming into force, the draft mining regulations shall be communicated by the Norwegian Government to the other Contracting Powers. If during this period one or more of the said Powers propose to modify these regulations before they are applied, such proposals shall be communicated by the Norwegian Government to the other Contracting Powers in order that they may be submitted to examination and the decision of a Commission composed of one representative of each of the said Powers. This Commission shall meet at the invitation of the Norwegian Government and shall come to a decision within a period of three months from the date of its first meeting. Its decisions shall be taken by a majority.
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.
Until the recognition by the High Contracting Parties of a Russian Government shall permit Russia to adhere to the present Treaty, Russian nationals and companies shall enjoy the same rights as nationals of the High Contracting Parties.
Claims in the territories specified in Article 1 which they may have to put forward shall be presented under the conditions laid down in the present Treaty (Article 6 and Annex) through the intermediary of the Danish Government, who declare their willingness to lend their good offices for this purpose.
The present Treaty, of which the French and English texts are both authentic, shall be ratified.
Ratifications shall be deposited at Paris as soon as possible.
Powers of which the seat of the Government is outside Europe may confine their action to informing the Government of the French Republic, through their diplomatic representative at Paris, that their ratification has been given, and in this case, they shall transmit the instrument as soon as possible.
The present Treaty will come into force, in so far as the stipulations of Article 8 are concerned, from the date of its ratification by all the signatory Powers; and in all other respects on the same date as the mining regulations provided for in that Article.
Third Powers will be invited by the Government of the French Republic to adhere to the present Treaty duly ratified. This adhesion shall be effected by a communication addressed to the French Government, which will undertake to notify the other Contracting Parties.
In witness whereof the abovenamed Plenipotentiaires have signed the present Treaty.
Done at Paris, the ninth day of February, 1920, in duplicate, one copy to be transmitted to the Government of His Majesty the King of Norway, and one deposited in the archives of the French Republic; authenticated copies will be transmitted to the other Signatory Powers.
Claims which for any reason the Commissioner referred to in clause (1) of the preceding paragraph has not recognised as valid will be settled in accordance with the following provisions:
The Norwegian Government shall within three months from the receipt of each decision take the necessary steps to confer upon the claimant whose claims have been recognised by the Tribunal valid title to the land in question, in accordance with the laws and regulations in force or the be enforced in the territories specified in Article 1, and subject to the mining regulations referred to in Article 8 of the present Treaty. Nevertheless, the titles so conferred will only become definitive on the payment by the claimant concerned, within such reasonable period as the Norwegian Government may fix, of his share of the expenses of the Tribunal.
Any claims which are not notified to the Commissioner in accordance whith clause (1) of paragraph 1, or which not having been recognised by him are not submitted to the Tribunal in accordance with paragraph 2, will be finally extinguished.