Hans Ø – Cold shoulders or Cooperation?

Since last weeks G20 Summit meeting news of how Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave the cold shoulder to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin have become a hot topic. Regardless of whether you are pushing political partisanship, or upset at how one country can violate the sovereignty of another, it should be understood that a good leader is willing to negotiate. Politics is often understood in terms of conflict or cooperation.

I see politics as the negotiation of a legitimate execution of power.

It is bizarre when an elected leader attempts to shut down a conversation with someone more ‘powerful’ than them. But of course the world is ever changing, borders constantly being negotiated – business will not be as usual.

With negotiation in mind, my interest in international politics can be attributed to how politics plays a significant force in our daily lives. Hedley Bull, an author, whom for me connects politics to society appropriately. It is from Bull’s 1977 book “The Anarchical Society”, that together with evidence from the present, I arrive at my understanding that Canada and Denmark, with Greenland, are small to “middle” power states with a capability to influence the order of the present international power system through cooperating to determine a politically viable future in the arctic whereby the two states can coexist and benefit from their relationships. Demonstrating the efforts of cooperation between the Danish and Canadian states regarding the border of the Hans Island can show how ideal the politics of the North Arctic can be by contrast to the well-known politics of conflict.

Hans Island
Hans Island

It should be noted that I am writing Denmark as a stand in for Greenland, as Denmark is still in control of Foreign Affairs, Immigration, and Defence of Greenland. As well, Denmark provides a 3.5DKK billion or a 588$ US million subsidy to Greenland.

My presentation of the events surrounding Hans Island are not to say that the pressure and threat of conflict is nowhere to be found around Hans Island. A glance in the area presents threats from other countries seeking to assert themselves; the best example of this being the Russian claim to the Lomonosov Ridge. The Russian claim here is a potential threat to any claimant in the North Arctic, especially Canada or Denmark, should they take more of the North Pole for themselves. As a way for these lesser powers, such as Canada and Denmark, to assert their claims and to uphold norms such as international laws, it is my belief that cooperation and negotiation is imperative. It will only be through cooperation that the transactions in the United Nations over the disputes regarding claims in the arctic can result in legal settlement. Therein, the participation of those states interested in the territory will determine the merit of their claim.


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