The disputed scope of the svalbard treaty offshore: A New Approach to Resolving the Issue

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The 1920 Treaty concerning the Archipelago of Spitsbergen confers sovereignty over Svalbard on Norway. It also provides that all parties to the Treaty enjoy equal rights of fishing and mining on Svalbard and in its 'territorial waters'. Norway and various other States parties to the Svalbard Treaty disagree as to whether the Treaty applies to the continental shelf and Fisheries Protection Zone (fpz) of Svalbard. There has been much discussion as to the merits of each side's legal position. This article does not contribute further to that discussion. Instead, it examines the three current principal issues where it makes a practical difference whether or not the Treaty applies-oil and gas exploration and exploitation, the catching of snow crab, and Norway's fisheries jurisdiction in the fpz-and suggests how disputes relating to those issues could be resolved without having to determine whether the Treaty applies to Svalbard's continental shelf and fpz.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-567
Number of pages24
JournalNordic Journal of International Law
Issue number4
Early online date5 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Barents Sea
  • climate emergency
  • European Union
  • fisheries
  • Norway
  • oil and gas
  • snow crab
  • Svalbard

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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