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Self-Determination of Colonial Peoples – The Case of Greenland Revisited

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image of Nordic Journal of International Law

In 1953 Greenland, having been a Danish colony for centuries, became an integral part of the Danish realm. The General Assembly in resolution 849 recognised this change of status as an exercise by the people of Greenland of their right of self-determination. Subsequently, however, some scholars have questioned the validity under international law of Greenland's change of status, referring to non-fulfilment of certain substantive and procedural requirements of the exercise of colonial self-determination. Addressing this criticism the article concludes that, based on the norms and standards applicable at the relevant time, there is not a sufficient basis for challenging the validity of Greenland's integration with Denmark in 1953 and the General Assembly's endorsement thereof. Consequently, in legal terms, Greenland cannot today claim a continued right of external self-determination, including independence from Denmark.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen


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