The Aarhus Declaration

We, Professor Michael Byers (University of British Columbia) and Professor Michael Böss (Aarhus University), hereby express our wish to see a resolution to the Hans Island dispute between Denmark/Greenland and Canada.


Hans Island is situated in the centre of the Kennedy Channel of Nares Strait separating  Ellesmere Island from northern Greenland, and the Danish and Canadian governments have, since 1973,  disagreed to which of the two countries the island belongs. For a number of years around the turn of the century, a symbolic and peaceful ”flag war” was fought over the tiny island. At the moment, they adhere to the protocol of ”agree to disagree”, as the former Danish foreign minister Per Stig Møller put it in May 2008. 

It appears unlikely that either country will wish to submit the dispute to international arbitration or litigation considering the uncertain outcome it would involve.   Against this background we declare:


The governments of Denmark and Canada should resolve the territorial dispute over Hans Island by creating a condominium of shared authority in which the Inuit of Canada and Greenland take part. We furthermore suggest that Hans Island becomes an international park symbolising the peaceful relations  among the peoples of the Arctic managed jointly by the governments of Nunavut and Greenland.

Michael Böss

Director of MatchPoints Seminar
Director of Canadian Studies Center

Michael Byers

Professor of Political Science
University of British Columbia