The Hans Island Dispute and the Doctrine of Occupation
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The tiny Hans Island, claimed by both Canada and Denmark, is the latest disputed land in Arctic. The aim of this article is to analyse whether this sovereignty question can be resolved by referring to the doctrine of occupation. The methods used are historical analysis and the dogmatics of international law. The historical examples and doctrinal views lead to the first level conclusion that in certain circumstances a land that belongs to no one can be occupied by a state merely by means of symbolic actions. Further considerations focus on the questions of whether Hans Island should be considered as possessing such certain qualities and if so, whether any of the contestants has ever performed any actions that can be interpreted as taking it into its possession. The conclusion points out that although it is very unlikely that analyzed solutions would be used to determine the fate of the Island, it is still crucial to realise that doctrines of international law, which may seems archaic, are to some extent still applicable and could be used in the Arctic disputes.
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