Left the flag of Nunavut (Canada), the right of Greenland (Denmark).
Etah’s hunting camp is the closest place from Hans Island where natives go regularly, 300 kilometers (180 miles) south. Greenlanders, like the Inuit of Nunavut, Canada, deeply love their country. They are the keepers of an ancestral polar culture and do not really know about borders. They live in a quite homogeneous space without any limits. Hans Island, even if the native hunters don’t go that far, undoubtedly belongs to this space.
By calling on states, our approach blames the land ownership and domination behavior against nature preservation and common good. In this way, it is close to the spirit of the first peoples.
Greenlandic people to the east, Inuit people to the west, are the protectors of Hans Island. To assert the idea of a universal island in the territory they are connected with, is a way for them to connect themselves to every country on every continent. This is for the inhabitants of the cold a way to show other people on Earth they are aware of their specific role, because everyone's future, not only theirs, depends on the glaciers that surround them. The cold that shapes their culture is the same cold, when it keeps up around the North Pole, that stabilizes the climate and prevent the sea from rising and flooding the cities, villages and plains elsewhere in the world.
"Choose Hans Island as a universal point of reference because this exception in the partition of the world is an opportunity to introduce another way of experiencing our connection to the Earth and to the common heritage of humanity."
"Inhabit Hans Island, even virtually, can strengthen the legitimacy of the claiming. "
Hans Hendrik, at the age of 49.
Hans Hendrik, at the age of 19.
Charles Francis Hall, discoverer of the island.
Canadians and Danes have no legitimate claims to Hans because of occupation: the area has always been uninhabited. So why does it belong to them? Because it was discovered by an Englishman, according to Canadians (Canada was formed jointly by the English and French) and by a Dane according to the Danes.
However, history is unambiguous about the fatherhood of the discoverer. The island was discovered Aug. 21, 1871, by Charles Francis Hall, commander of the Polaris. He named it Hans in tribute to his faithful Inuit guide and companion: Hans Hendrik. This famous native guide, honored in the books of Jean Malaurie, was from southern Greenland, so Denmark ... But only the expedition leader can be considered the discoverer. In this case, it was Charles Francis Hall, who was not English but American. When the first Englishman appeared - George Strong Nares - it was four years later. Hall tragically died just three months after its discovery, poisoned by the doctor of his own expedition. His body still lies in the far north of Greenland in an area named in his honor as Hall Land.
Neither Canada nor Denmark have legitimacy by occupation or by discovery. Hans escape to territorial agreements. The island is known by the name of a Greenlandic hunter and was discovered by an American, who was assassinated three months later. The United States did not try to claim the region and consider that, like the Northwest Passage, the Pole Passage (or Nares Strait) must remain a neutral place in which ships could freely navigate.
The grounds of legitimacy:
The main factor of a country's legitimacy over a territory is occupation by its citizens or by a people who, by referendum, say they want to be attached to that country.
The second factor of legitimacy is the fatherhood of the discovery. In the case of Hans Island, we find that no more Canada than Denmark has on these two plans elements that they could legally develop.
Both countries rely on other arguments:
- Natural Proximity. The island is bordered by the coast whose sovereignty is not under discussion. Observing the seabed could make the difference: Denmark considers that Hans Island is connected to the Greenland plateau that was attributed to them in 1933 by the International Court of Justice and think they own it for that reason.
-Legitimacy through use. Denmark and Canada are the only two countries to formally and regularly land on the island. Each can legitimately, over the passing years, make admit by other nations that the rock falls within their jurisdiction. It is natural and usage legitimacy that prevails here. Uncertainty in the case of Hans Island is only related to the double claim.
As we are not acting as representatives of an established State, we do not have, for international law, any legitimacy. This is one of the reasons why we don't act with the goal of appropriating the land but with that of bringing Canada and Denmark to mutually renounce their venture. Our legitimacy to express what we want for Hans Island is based on ethical elements in accordance with the official repeated calls for the protection of biodiversity and the fight against global warming. Our legitimacy comes from our responsibility as human beings and our representation in numbers.
Backed by the strength of our approach, which rejects the notion of property and highlights that of responsibility, we call upon States that are willing to accompany us to advocate in favor of Hans, universal island alongside foreign diplomacies and before the United Nations.
To us, "claim" and "inhabit" Hans Island are translated into a single act: to make us known as people morally connected to this place. This place being desert, one can imagine a jurisprudence integrating the concept of virtual inhabitants and recognizing the rights of people who clearly express their connection to the island, even if this connection is subjective. Are not all links with others, a place, a hierarchy, confirmed by a contract or not, subjective in nature? Legal recognition as a virtual inhabitant of Hans is thus not excluded. The fact of "living", therefore bringing a population to this island, would advocate in favor of the legitimacy of each person to decide his fate.
Our role as citizens is to bring a specific number of governments to form a group to introduce the question of the neutrality of Hans Island to the UN. In response, Canada and Denmark will have to reaffirm their position that will have, in the meantime, we hope for it, evolved. In any event, the assignment of status Terra Nullius will be the concern of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, submitted to this issue by the United Nations.
Once Hans Island is made a single sovereignty, Canada and Denmark will undoubtedly be best placed to ensure the neutrality of the island and uphold to the eyes of the world the principle it represents.
Greenland is an autonomous country inside the Kingdom of Denmark. The autonomy of the Greenlanders only concerns internal matters (education, health, culture ...) but it never concerns international law and diplomatic representation. Foreign policy and defense are exclusively up to Denmark.
More and more Greenlanders would be glad to get free from Denmark (the Independence Party won 43% of the votes in the 2009 parliamentary elections), but can they really afford a full independence? Here are some of their obstacles:
- With only 56,000 inhabitants, it would be difficult for Greenland to provide enough elites to ensure administrative burdens related to a full functioning State.
- The standard of living of the people could not be maintained without the massive influx of Danish money. Greenlanders rely heavily on oil production to fund their own budget and pay off Denmark, one of the main conditions of their independence.
- The highly strategic position of Greenland, and the extent of its territory, makes the envy of world powers; maintain its independence without specific deals with a foreign power is hardly imaginable. In this case, can we still talk about independence?
For Greenlanders, Hans Island name is Tartupaluk.
Do Greenlanders have a say?
The role of the arctic communities
Info: Canadian oil company Dome Petroleum has conducted several consecutive years of research on Hans Island, unbeknownst to the Danes. The goal of the company was to take advantage from the unique location of the island facing the ice flows pushed by currents to evaluate the forces involved and resistance that oil rigs in the region should have.
THE POLITICAL SITUATION
La station météo de Hans est de même nature que celle-ci, sur l'île Littleton un peu plus au sud.
"O Canada, we stand on guard for thee"
The Danish flag floats proudly at the top of the island...
Hans Island is a piece of rock located in the Kennedy Channel about 81° north latitude, in an unpopulated area between Baffin Bay and the Lincoln Sea. Its area is about 1.3 square kilometers, and its plateau rises to 160 meters. Subject to high winds and very low temperatures (-30 ° C average in winter, 2 or 3 ° C in July) the island has no interest by itself. The northernmost native community in the world lives in Siorapaluk, Qaanaaq district, 400 kilometers south. The almost constant presence of multi-year ice floe makes the island very difficult to access, and only scientific or military missions go there.
Hans Island stands out because of its location halfway between the Canadian and Danish coasts (17 km on each side). It has been claimed simultaneously by Canada and Denmark since 1973, when the agreement delimiting the maritime boundary between the two countries was being signed. The two countries were not able to agree on a portion of the long line of 875 meters, where the island is located. The island has no territorial waters, thus neither country, if it acquired the island, would benefit from an extension of its fishing or drilling rights.
Tensions arose when global warming brought the possibility of a navigable route before 2050, harboring the idea of exploiting the Arctic Ocean's hydrocarbon. Hans Island became a strategic point for controlling future naval traffic in the strait. Denmark considers the island to be on the Greenland shelf and says it was discovered by a Dane, they think it should therefore be returned to them. Canadians, for their part, attribute the discovery to the British. There ensued on both sides of capturing and recapturing the island; the Danish navy plants its flags in 1988, 1995, 2002 and 2003, while in July 2005, it is Canada's turn to plant its flag and to build an Inukshuk (an Inuit traditional cairn) before the arrival of the minister of foreign affairs himself.
This coup by the Canadians leads the Danes to officially protest and to reaffirm their sovereignty in August of the same year by sending out a patrol boat; however, the Canadian flag is left in place. The quarrel caused the press of the two countries to stir when, in September, the two foreign ministers signed a joint statement saying: "We will continue to work together to find a long term solution to the dispute over Hans Island." These efforts just failed to get a result in April 2012, when the two nations were planning to split the island equally, but it did not happen. Since then, politeness is for each party to report to his neighbor all landings on Hans, and both know that the issue of sovereignty remains "a disagreement."
What about the Antarctica ?
Why the Hans project differs from the case of Antarctica
Since 1959, the object of the treaties concerning Antarctica is to reduce the national claimings and favor the nature conservation. The Madrid Protocol which forbid mining and military activities will come to end in 2048 and nobody can say if it will be extended. The nations display a strong interest to Antarctica. By installing scientific research stations, those nations (USA, Great Britain, Russia, China, France, Norway, Japan, Chile, Argentina...) show their power and their political determination. The white continent is far too much big and much too charged with stakes for human people to be heard there.
The Hans Island initiative has a symbolic dimension in which, considering the almost ridiculous size of the island, it is really possible to associate a neutrality. Hans does not interest nations, Hans interests hearts and consciousnesses. Twelve million times smaller than Antarctica, it doesn't weigh on the material plan but asserts a principle which has neither borders nor limits.
Yes, but before Canada and Denmark admit that, we have a long way to go. It's the reason why we have to be as many people as possible to come and claim Hans Island.
" This request is not followed by any other request. The sense given to Hans Island is not bound to militant positions. What can make things change, today, is the symbol, the conscientious and responsible decision. "
1. Gather as many people as possible around the idea of Hans Insula Universalis. Individuals, NGOs, journalists, companies all over the world.
2. Call for governments of the countries which are the most vulnerable to climate disturbances to support at the UN the creation of a convention establishing the unquestionable neutrality of Hans Island (Terra Nullius).
3. Offer Canada and Denmark to end their dispute in favor of the common good.
-Hans Island, with its 1.3 square kilometers, is one of the very few pieces of land still out of any State governement, due to being simultaneously claimed by two nations, Canada and Denmark, while the UN fails to give an opinion.
-Located a thousand kilometers from the North Pole, on the edge of the coldest and iciest sea in the world - the Lincoln Sea - Hans Island is a prime observation point to study the melting of multiannual ice floe, ice floe that act as air conditioner for the planet and engine for ocean streams.
-Global warming and territorial claims for purposes of control and exploitation directly threaten the quality of these territories and their role in the ecological balance on which we depend. Changing the status of Hans becomes necessary to alleviate tensions in the area and get an idea of how the global realities are today. In a context of widespread saturation and inability to change the course of things, it is a hope.
"We know there are impressive oil and gaz supplies which were difficult to access in the past and that will become more and more accessible," says James Steinberg, former Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. According to the American administration scientific estimations, over a fifth of the unexploited oil and gas resources are located north of the Arctic Circle. For the neighboring Canada, accessing these resources by an ice-free Nares Strait would be a real bargain.
THE POLITICAL SITUATION
At the heart of the natural climate regulation system, in the entrance of the Lincoln Sea, Hans Island Hans is in a key position.
If this island, hardly as big as a hundred football stadiums, is thought of as topical, it is because of its strategic position at the Lincoln Sea’s entrance. This ice-covered sea protects the area from human intrusion, but when global warming will have melted the ice away, it will give access to the Arctic Ocean and its commercial exploitation. Hans Island’s status is yet not fixed due to Danish and Canadian double claim. Neither authority nor the United Nations can decide: it is to those two nations that come the responsibility to find an agreement.
The state of mind behind this dispute is the very one that has always made humanity plunder the Earth's resources. Claiming Hans Island introduces another logic.
For a nation, the ownership of large natural areas is a responsibility before being a political asset.
A responsibility to the rest of the world in so far as such areas have become rare and, in these times of climate disorders and threats of ecosystem collapse, precious.