Talk:Svalbard Treaty

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Svalbard Treaty/Spitsbergen Treaty[edit]

This article is pretty skimpy. For example it does not explain why such a variety of countries should be signatories - including not only Japan, New Zealand and Chile but even Afghanistan! Can some historian put in a paragraph at least about this. Also needs a map showing territorial and 200 mile limits etc papermaker (talk) 10:49, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

I have changed the name svalbard-treaty into it's original name: Traité concernant le Spitsberg In the whole treaty, the name Svalbard is not mentioned. (even not in the norwegian translation) It's just modern policy of norway to replace the international name spitsbergen and call it Svalbard.

Ah I see - but do you think that the entire article should be moved to one that bears the name of the original treaty title then? To my knowledge, by far the most common name today is "Svalbard Treaty", even though the actual treaty itself was concluded before the Norwegianization years. By the way, perhaps it would be a good idea to have an article dealing with the controversies over the reintroduction of Nidaros, Oslo and Svalbard. What do you think? //Big Adamsky 08:21, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

It is all politics.... Article 2 says: 'Ships and nationals of all the High Contracting Parties shall enjoy equally the rights of fishing and hunting in the territories specified in Article 1 and in their territorial waters.' But my experience is that the norwegians claim it to be theirs, also they act to show it. Right now I am trying to figure out when Norway started to call it Svalbard. Anyway, it is not so long ago that they started slowly to use Svalbard instead of Spitsbergen in the international brochures. After all it is the only reason on which the theory is based that the norwegians had been there before. Some recources mention the island called 'Svalbard' in the old chronicles, is most likely what we call now 'Jan Mayen'.

I have been working on this lemma on the Dutch wiki, I thought wiki should stick to the original name of the Treaty, Svalbard is, as said, not used in the treaty, I think using Svalbard Treaty is not quite NPOV, Russia and Norway are still debating the impact, we should not take sides. Peter boelens (talk) 22:25, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't have strong opinions either way, but it does seem that "Svalbard Treaty" is more common in third-party English writings about the treaty. I have, however, found a few instances of "Spitsbergen Treaty" in modern scholarly works, so it's not entirely un-used. But is the name actually a political issue? I thought the Russian dispute was mainly over the scope of the treaty (whether it applies to the surrounding waters or just to the island), not over the name of the island, which they agree has full Norwegian sovereignty, subject to the treaty's economic and military limitations. --Delirium (talk) 01:28, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
My Russian is non-existent, but I understand that Russia still uses the name Spitsbergen. Svalbard was adopted by Norway to underline their claim. The Treaty states the full sovereingnty, but given the limitations in the Treaty it is a strange sort of sovereingnty. This summer I was on Spitsbergen, Russia (the Russian Coal Company) and Norway were arguing over the number of helicopter-flights between Longyearbyen and Barents(z)burg. Norway is limiting the number as part of their environmental policy (article 2 of the Treaty). Russia sees this as a violation of article 3 (liberty of access), so to say that Russia fully accepts Norwegian sovereignty might not be completely accurate. Peter boelens (talk) 11:36, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Seeing as how it was called the Spitsbergen Treaty, and not the Svalbard Treaty, I'll be reverting it to its proper name. Jonas Poole (talk) 00:39, 22 January 2009 (UTC)


It might be worth mentioning all the countries that signed the signature and if your looking to go there for a vacation, you can get there without a Visa if your a citizen of one of the countries that signed the Treaty. (

done, but with outdated list. Alinor 16:38, 12 August 2007 (UTC)
Is there a time limit of signing the Treaty? (eg. 10 years after enetring into force) Alinor (talk) 21:51, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

Fishing rights?![edit]

I find the last sentence very odd; "Under the 1920 agreement signed by 48 countries, all signatories have equal fishing rights near the Spitsbergen Archipelago, but Norway has been allegedly seeking exclusive rights to the area since 1977[citation needed]." The treaty grants equal rights within the territorial waters around Svalbard. Norway has not attempted to infringe on any of the rights granted in the treaty, but areas are subject to environmental protection, which the treaty binds Norway to do. What is being discussed is the Svalbard "EEZ". Here Norway allows fishing based on tradition, but maintains that it could establish a proper EEZ it wanted to as there are no limitations to Norwegian sovereignty outside of the territorial waters in the treaty. I think the sentence should be changed or removed. -- Nidator 15:54, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

I've rewritten/expanded this based on two references. Basically Norway and the USSR/Russia disagree over whether the Svalbard Treaty applies to the EEZ around Svalbard or just to Svalbard's territorial waters. --Delirium (talk) 02:24, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Treaty name[edit]

I've never done this before, so bear with any mistakes or protocol violations. I'm a journalist who works in Longyearbyen (details at and the governor's office ( refers to the document as the Svalbard Treaty. Yes, I've read the document and arguments here, but it seems like using the name designated by the official governing agency makes sense. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:52, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

I couldn't think of a more biased source than the governor of Svalbard. There is absolutely no reason for the treaty to be referred to as the "Svalbard Treaty". It was extremely irresponsible for the Norwegians to call Spitsbergen Svalbard in the first place (seeing as how they have NO evidence to support their claim for the two being one and the same). Referring to the Spitsbergen Treaty as the "Svalbard Treaty" would be an extension of this irresponsibility. Jonas Poole (talk) 19:37, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
The argumentation above is about as POV as it can possibly get; Jonas Poole seems to unilaterally moved the article from Svalbard to Spitsbergen merely because he personally disagrees with the renaming of the archipelago in the 1920s. It is an undoubted fact that the archipelago is called Svalbard by nearly all reliable sources in English—whether you "like" it or not is irrelevant. We are writing an encyclopedia, not a blog.
While revamping the Svalbard article, I came across the treaty in many sources and nearly all referred to it as the "Svalbard Treaty". For instance, the Governor of Svalbard, the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Government of Norway, CIA World Fact Book and the BBC. The single source referring to the "Spitsbergen Treaty" is a translation of a German guidebook, which is rather unreliable on this issue as it refers to whole archipelago as "Spitsbergen". Note that I have not made a "selective choice"; these are the English sources I have found and cited during the cleanup process. WP:NC states: "Us[e] names and terms commonly used in reliable sources..." In this case, nearly all reliable sources use the term "Svalbard Treaty", and it is therefore the appropriate article name and link. I think we can all agree the treaty's full title, "Treaty between Norway, The United States of America, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Ireland and the British overseas Dominions and Sweden concerning Spitsbergen signed in Paris 9th February 1920." is too long to be use (fails "concise" at WP:NC), so we are forced to use what reliable sources refer to the article as. Arsenikk (talk) 10:01, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
I have to agree. If Jonas Poole can't show us that reliable sources in English generally refer to the treaty as the Spitsbergen Treaty the article should be moved back. I understand his arguments but they are original research and as so irrelevant. I would also note that the most comprehensive scholarly work on the subject is named «The Svalbard Treaty: From Terra Nullius to Norwegian Sovereignty» written by Geir Ulfstein. I'll try to find the full text and check if he says anything about the name. Rettetast (talk) 13:31, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Its original name WAS the Spitsbergen Treaty. There is absolutely no reason to blindly change it to what the Norwegians want to call it. Three of your sources are Norwegian, which are of course extremely biased. The other two sources merely copied the Norwegians, not bothering to do any research themselves. It will stay as the Spitsbergen Treaty. End of debate. Jonas Poole (talk) 00:42, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
Let's see, Geir Ulfstein, a Norwegian scholar. I don't need to say anything more. Jonas Poole (talk) 00:50, 5 April 2010 (UTC)
what does it matter if Ulfstein is Norwegian?. Please provide your sources. If not I will revert. Rettetast (talk) 01:08, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Since no reliable sources has been shown I have reverted the move. If you are willing to discuss with us, list the article at WP:RM. Rettetast (talk) 10:46, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

I do not understand this discussion, and definitely not the outcome of it. When the treaty was negotiated in 1920, all contracting parties spoke of it as the Spitsbergen Treaty. Svalbard was not used in the international communications. Since then, the name of the treaty in English undisputably speaks of Spitsbergen. So in legal terms and in conformity with Wipkipedia policy, the title should read Spitsbergen Treaty. Obviously, in political terms the debate is open whether to use Svalbard instead of Spitsbergen for the territory. However, this article is NOT on the territory, but on the Treaty! I suggest strongly to change the title to Spitsbergen Treaty. Michel Doortmont 15:37, 23 May 2011 (UTC)
Note that the remark "Since no reliable sources has been shown" [sic] is missing the point completely: just check the original title of the treaty in English, several versions of which are listed as links in the article. Moreover, there is an official French translation which speaks of "le Spitsberg". For sources, the following is the text in English and French on the official site with Norwegian "traktater" (treaties): Spitsbergen Treaty Michel Doortmont 15:40, 23 May 2011 (UTC)
To make that complete: the site is the and has in its introduction the following text: "Lovdata was established on July 1st 1981, as a private foundation by the Ministry of Justice and the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo. Some of the background material leading up to the creation of Lovdata is collected in The Lawdata Papers, published in 1981." I think we can assume that the texts published here have the blessing of the Norwegian government and are legally correct. Michel Doortmont 15:56, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Not moved. No consensus. -- Hadal (talk) 01:27, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

Svalbard TreatySpitsbergen Treaty – In view of the arguments and evidence listed by me above I submit that this article should revert to its old heading of "Spitsbergen Treaty". Michel Doortmont 16:07, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

  • Oppose I will not repeat my arguments which are clearly stated above; User:Doortmont's recent comments do not in any way change the issue. Reliable sources predominantly refer to it as the "Svalbard Treaty" and not the "Spitsbergen Treaty", and WP:NC states that we call it what it is commonly referred to, not necessarilly its legal name, which for the sake of argument is "Treaty between Norway, The United States of America, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Ireland and the British overseas Dominions and Sweden concerning Spitsbergen signed in Paris 9th February 1920". Arsenikk (talk) 18:30, 23 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Weak Oppose. From what I can tell, Svalbard Treaty is by far the predominant common name in English writing on the subject. I can't find any countries which make a point of referring to it as the Spitsbergen Treaty or object to the Svalbard name, so it doesn't seem to be an active subject of diplomatic dispute. I could be wrong on the latter point, though. --Delirium (talk) 21:27, 23 May 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


Does anyone know if the Republic of Ireland ratified the treaty? When the treaty was signed, Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and was therefore directly represented by the British plenipotentiaries who signed the treaty (whereas Canada, et al., were indirectly represented as pre-Westminster Commonwealth realms). However, Ireland's independence was recognized prior to the British ratification of the treaty on 29 December 1923. While I believe Ireland remained a Commonwealth member following independence, and only later withdrew, I'm unsure of how British legislation applied to them, since, unless I'm mistaken, they immediately adopted a Republican system which replaced the British monarch as head of state. As such, did the British ratification of the Treaty affect Ireland or not? (talk) 00:06, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

I'm unsure about whether they ratified, but they remained under the Windsor Monarchy till 1949. Therefore it's probably in the same situation of the other dominions. Chipmunkdavis (talk) 10:54, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Ireland informed the other countries in 1976 that it accepted the ratification of this treaty by the UK also for itself. Ireland is officially listed as having ratified the treaty together with the UK in 1923.[1] Heitordp (talk) 07:42, 15 February 2017 (UTC)


Why is Ukraine present on the list (ratified 1935) but missing green colour on the coresponding map? (talk) 22:42, 25 February 2011 (UTC)RWhite

Ukraine has not ratified this treaty. I removed it from the list. Heitordp (talk) 07:42, 15 February 2017 (UTC)


Just a detail, but doesn't it strike anyone else as slightly ironic that the map showing the treaty ratifications doesn't actually show Svalbard itself? Verence (talk) 13:41, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

I agree. I added Svalbard to the map, in blue. Heitordp (talk) 07:42, 15 February 2017 (UTC)