The Right to National Self-Determination: The Faroe Islands and Greenland

By Sjúrður Skaale | Go to book overview

9 - Non-Sovereign Polities and
Their Access to the International
Community

Bogi Eliasen


Introduction

At first glance, the title of this chapter may seem inconsistent, as the international community is often described as the interaction between sovereign states and the organizations established by them. My submission, however, is that the international community is changing and this leaves room for autonomous non-sovereign polities like Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The change is arguably from an international to a global community.

This chapter is divided into five parts, followed by two Annexes. The purpose of the first part is to identify the international profile of Greenland and The Faroes. The second part describes the opportunities for non-sovereign polities in international organizations. The third part compares the status and practice of other overseas dependencies in Western state structures. The fourth part examines the status vis-à-vis the EU of non-sovereign entities associated to EU Member States. Finally, the fifth part compares The Faroes and Greenland to other non-sovereign polities and their relations to the principle state. Annex i offers an overview of non-sovereign polities; Annex 2 lists the acronyms and full names of all the international organizations contacted during the research.

I myself lived for the first 20 years of my life in the Faroe Islands, a non-sovereign polity, situated overseas, far away from the metropolitan state of Denmark, with its own language, culture, flag, autonomous Constitutional Act, and yet officially without international recognition. At the same time, Denmark was entering an ever-closer union in Europe, with The Faroes remaining outside and Greenland even withdrawing from the EU. My university education in political science in Denmark provided no adequate explanation for this development of the association between Denmark and its associate countries, know as the Danish Realm. I proceeded on the assumption that “international law is what states make,” as stated by Malanczuk:

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