Report: Denmark to lay claim to North Pole
The summer sun sheds light on an iceberg near the town of Ilulissat, Greenland.
May 18th, 2011
12:09 PM ET

Report: Denmark to lay claim to North Pole

The Kingdom of Denmark is preparing to claim ownership of the North Pole, according to a Danish media report.

In a document leaked to the Danish newspaper Information, Denmark will ask the United Nations to recognize the North Pole as a geologic extension of Greenland, the vast Arctic island that is a Danish territory. Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen confirmed the annexation attempt, Information reported.

According to The Copenhagen Post, "The kingdom is expected to make a demand for the continental shelf in five areas around the Faroe Islands and Greenland, including the North Pole itself."

Denmark has set its sights on the geographic North Pole, a fixed point in the Arctic Ocean at 90 degrees north latitude and 0 degrees longitude. The magnetic north pole, the one your Cub Scout compass points to, is near there but moves around all the time as Earth's magnetic field shifts, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Five countries - Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), Norway, Russia and the United States (via Alaska) - have coasts on the Arctic Ocean, but none has ever claimed ownership of the pole. Working under a United Nations mandate, high-ranking diplomats have met several times to work out a plan for mutually acceptable boundaries.

"We are in the middle of an important and civilized process of how to usefully manage the last area in the world not owned by anyone," Greenland President Kuupik Kleist told Information. "... If we did not, we would leave it to those who have already filed claims, or who will do it. It is therefore a must that Denmark is preparing claims."

It's unclear how the claim will go over with the other Arctic countries, but initial reactions have been mild.

Despite longstanding Russian interest in the region, at least one Russian media outlet was sanguine about Denmark's approach.

"This fits in well into the contemporary international law regime of the Arctic," Vassily Gutsulyak, an expert with the Institute of State and Law in the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in an interview with The Voice of Russia.

Although the Danish document downplays the economic potential of its proposed claim, the Voice of Russia said the region holds vast reserves of gas and oil, as well as such minerals as coal, gold, copper, nickel, tin and platinum. Climate change also promises to open useful shipping routes across the Arctic, it said.

A Canadian expert greeted the news with enthusiasm.

"This is a positive development because Denmark ... is working in a framework of international law," University of British Columbia (Canada) professor Michael Byers told Postmedia News. "It is exactly how these matters are supposed to be resolved."

However, not all Canadians are willing to let the pole go without a fight. A tongue-in-cheek editorial on the online forum The Mark said:

"We'll be damned if we let those no-good, well-dressed, soft-spoken, architecturally inclined, generally peaceable Danes get away with it."

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Filed under: Canada • Climate change • Denmark • Earth • Energy • North Pole • Norway • Russia • U.S.
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. Loki

    true vikings would just take it–hail Odin

    May 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnny orlando

      Vikings were the sea raiders, when they were on land they were simply called Danes. So no matter what they do they are Danes

      May 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MayBsane

    The forward thinking Danes are just covering all the bases in case Doomsday is the 21st. The North Pole may become the new tropics.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hmmm

    WOW... another war on the horizon. Can we finish with Iraq and Afghanistan first?!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Christopher

    You know the world is going to hell when Denmark gets territorial aggressive.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jim

    A country doesn't own any land unless they are capable of defending it against seizure by another country.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex Gessong

      @Jim, That was true before the emergence of international law. Now, a country doesn't have to rely on brute strength. That's why Kuwait was able to get the U.N. to bless the first Gulf War in the 1990s: Kuwait's territory was recognized by international law, so Iraq's attempt to annex Kuwait was illegal. Kuwait's military was no match for Iraq's, but the combined military strength of the U.N. members who responded was more than enough to defeat the Iraqi force and preserve Kuwait's territorial integrity. The world has come a long way, so the Danes don't need to send Viking longboats to enforce their claim to the North Pole. 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Myself

    All this talk about the north pole calling it "International Waters" is not right.....It is "International Ice" until global warming takes effect. (Don't shoot – It was just a joke!)

    May 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Captain Gort

    There's likely a lot of oil in that territory!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. grant

    true vikings would last long in todays world!!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. killallthewhiteman

    Too bas I wrote "first" on the North Pole. It's all mine!!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jason

    Hmmm...why now? And also, out of curiousity, who owns the south pole?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • dfasdfs

      Everybody and Nobody.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flasher

      Antarctica is a scientific preserve, no one owns it.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe

    Well then. I guess I'll just claim the South Pole. And Mars.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liqmaticus

      Let the U.N. know first please.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. 1RingyDingy

    Let them have it... according to Al Gore, it will all melt in a few years anyway.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • bandit109

      That's exactly why they want it.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Emmersome Bigguns

    I think Santa might have something to say about this!
    "All Elves to arms!"

    May 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigMac

      We will just have to get Santa's Sled and arm it with Missiles and scare away the USA and Russia and train the Elves into Navy Seals to protect our Land :O)

      May 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cedar Rapids

    It a plot for world domination, dont you see? Once they have the north pole they would then control santa, and once you have control of santa you can control the world's children and get them to do your bidding in order to remain on the good kid list!
    oh its diabolical in its brilliance and scale.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. johnny orlando

    We need to prepare for a shield wall, thats the way the saxons defeated the danes in the past.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
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