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Demilitarisation and neutralisation of Svalbard: how has the Svalbard regime been able to meet the changing security realities during almost 100 years of existence?

  • Timo Koivurova (a1) and Filip Holiencin (a1)

Norway will soon celebrate that 100 years ago, the former ‘no-man's land’ of the Svalbard archipelago was placed under its sovereignty. However, this paper focuses on another important and often omitted element also brought about by the 1920 Svalbard Treaty regarding its demilitarisation and neutralisation. We ask how has the Svalbard security regime been able to meet the various challenges it has faced over almost 100 years of existence? Also, given that the treaty was drafted at the beginning of the 20th century, are the security provisions of this regime already obsolete or are they seen still as valid, and more importantly functional against the backdrop of rapidly changing security realities? This paper then goes further and while it uses Svalbard as a case study, it tries to assess the role of demilitarisation and neutralisation in the modern context by trying to infer possible lessons from two similar regimes, which apply to Antarctica and the Åland Islands.

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