Island Tug-of-War: Canada and Denmark are fighting the strangest war in human history
Categories: ConflictBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/island-tug-of-war-canada-and-denmark-are-fighting-the-strangest-war-in-human-history
In the middle of the Ners Strait, which separates Greenland and the Canadian province of Nunavut, Hans Island rises. The area of the island is only 1.3 square kilometers, it is uninhabited, there are no trees and there is practically no soil. It would seem, well, let him rise to whom he actually surrendered.
But no, this island has been the scene of an international conflict for almost half a century. In practice, it looks like this. Every few months, a landing party of Canadian navy sailors lands on Hans Island, they lower the Danish flag, hang up their own and leave a bottle of whiskey. Then the Danes appear, repeat the procedure, take the whiskey and leave their bottle. Therefore, this strange conflict was dubbed the whiskey war.
The exact location of Hans Island was described by researchers in the 20s of the last century. It turned out that it is located strictly in the middle of the Ners Strait, 35 kilometers wide. Which creates an interesting precedent from the point of view of international law. According to the legislation, the border of territorial waters runs 12 miles (22.2 kilometers) from the shore. Consequently, Hans Island falls into both Canadian and Danish (Greenland belongs to Denmark) territorial waters.
In 1933, the issue was raised at a meeting of the Permanent Court of International Justice (the judicial body of the League of Nations). As a result, the island was given to Denmark. However, due to the remoteness of the disputed territory and the subsequent collapse of the League of Nations, this decision soon lost both practical and legal force.
In the 70s, the two countries recognized each other's claims to the continental shelf and even drew a maritime border approaching the island from the north and south, but they could not agree on the status of the island itself. However, due to the presence of more pressing foreign policy issues, both sides forgot about the existence of the dispute for a long time.
Until 2004, the Canadian Parliament used the conflict over Hans Island as an excuse to increase defense spending. Canadian troops arrived on the poor island, erected a stone sculpture and raised a flag. Which caused a violent outrage on the Danish side. Since then, the debate has not abated. The expeditions of both countries alternately dismantle the flags and monuments of the enemy and build their own. But at the same time they do not lose their sense of humor and leave gifts.
"The Danish military always leave a bottle of schnapps on the island. Canadians, for their part, also support a fun tradition — after them we find a bottle of whiskey and a sign "Welcome to Canada!"," writes Peter Taxo Jensen, head of the International Law Department of the Danish Foreign Ministry.