Friday, June 21, 2024

Researcher: "New Svalbard White Paper Affirms Norwegian Jurisdiction on Svalbard"

From High North News, June 20:

In the new Svalbard white paper, the Norwegian government wants to facilitate international research on the archipelago while simultaneously clarifying Norwegian research leadership. Svalbard researcher Arild Moe says the white paper affirms Norwegian jurisdiction on Svalbard.

Les på norsk.

Norwegian Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl presented the long-awaited Svalbard white paper at the end of May. And although the previous one came in 2016, an acceleration of the white paper was announced last year.

It was then highlighted that the world was changing, both geopolitically and environmentally, which again made a new Svalbard white paper necessary before 2026.

After the mining industry closed down, tourism and research were appointed the new pillars of the Svalbard community.

The new white paper shows that research and education continue to be important for asserting sovereignty in Svalbard. Research Professor at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute Arild Moe says the white paper primarily affirms Norwegian jurisdiction on the archipelago.

Prevent other states from consolidating their presence

In a continuation of the 2016 Svalbard white paper, the government primarily wants all research to be based in established local communities and research stations. Therefore, they state that one cannot expect permits to develop new research stations or other large and permanent research infrastructure outside the planning area.

Svalbard researcher Tiril Vold Hansen from Nord University says to High North News that although the government argues that environmental concerns are key here, one can also interpret the measure geopolitically.

"One could also look at this as a measure to prevent foreign research actors from establishing themselves on Svalbard, thereby making it harder for other states to consolidate their presence on Svalbard and in the Arctic. Here, it is natural to highlight Russia's announced plans to develop a research station and research cooperation with Brazil, India, China, and South Africa," says the researcher....