Aspects Regarding the Svalbard Demilitarisation in Relation to Norway

Joining the Atlantic Alliance in 1949, and Reflections on the Åland Islands’

Demilitarised and Neutralised status in the Event of a Finnish NATO





Åsa Gustafsson

The article strives to explore certain aspects regarding the Svalbard demilitarisation in relation to Norway joining the Atlantic Alliance, which could be of interest in relation to the Åland Islands’ status as demilitarised and neutralised in a situation where Finland would decide to join NATO – although the Svalbard and the Åland Islands’ legal regimes are sui generis regimes, differing for a number of fundamental reasons, as parts of a two larger regimes that differ historically, of dissimilar construction and disparate in nature.

Taking a closer look at the state of the Svalbard legal regime around the time when Norway joined the Atlantic Alliance in 1949 leads to the conclusion that there were threats towards it from 1944–1947, followed by a reconfirmation of the security provisions in the Svalbard Treaty. Arguably the Åland Islands’ legal regime of today is more robust. Seemingly, the application of ‘NATO’s’ arts. 4 and 5 have so far not had any ties to Svalbard.

The leeway for interpretation of treaty provisions is arguably of wider scope in the Svalbard case than in the Ålandic one. Any kind of reservation for the Svalbard status at the time of Norway joining the Atlantic Alliance was not considered. The article discusses whether an acknowledgement of the Åland Islands’ status would be feasible in the event of a Finnish NATO membership, and finds that a number of issues are still not explored.

About the Author
Åsa Gustafsson holds an LL.M., a B.S. in political science, and an M.S. She is currently on leave from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs for the purpose of completing a doctoral dissertation in public international law with the overarching theme ‘Security in the Baltic Sea Region’ at Åbo Akademi University.
Table of Contents

2. Svalbard and NATO
2.1 The Svalbard Treaty: Developments to 1944
2.2 NATO
2.3 Norway’s stance on Svalbard when joining NATO, 1944–1951
2.3.1 1944 until early 1947
2.3.2. Change of direction early 1947
2.3.3 After the reorientation in 1947 – joining the Atlantic Alliance in 1949
2.3.4 1951 and the Soviet notes
2.4 The state of the Svalbard legal regime 1944–1951
3. The Svalbard and Åland Islands legal regimes
3.1 Military-strategic aspects until around 1951
3.2 Leeway of interpretation
4. The Åland Islands and NATO
4.1 Finland
4.2 Åland and the EU
5. Conclusions

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