Svalbard Treaty

The Svalbard Treaty (originally the Spitsbergen Treaty) recognises the sovereignty of Norway over the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, at the time called Spitsbergen. The exercise of sovereignty is, however, subject to certain stipulations, and not all Norwegian law applies. The treaty regulates the demilitarisation of the archipelago. The signatories were given equal rights to engage in commercial activities (mainly coal mining) on the islands. As of 2012, Norway and Russia make use of this right.

Svalbard Treaty
Treaty recognising the sovereignty of Norway over the Archipelago of Spitsbergen, including Bear Island
Traité reconnaissant la souveraineté de la Norvège sur l’archipel du Spitsberg, y compris l’île aux Ours
Ratifications of the treaty
Signed9 February 1920
LocationParis, France
Effective14 August 1925
ConditionRatification by all the signatory powers
Parties46[1] - See list
DepositaryGovernment of the French Republic
LanguagesFrench and English
Full text
Spitsbergen Treaty at Wikisource

Uniquely, the archipelago is an entirely visa-free zone under the terms of the Svalbard Treaty.[2]

The treaty was signed on 9 February 1920 and submitted for registration in the League of Nations Treaty Series on 21 October 1920.[3] There were 14 original High Contracting Parties: Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands,[4] Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom (including the dominions of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, India), and the United States.[5] Of the original signatories, Japan was the last to ratify the treaty on 2 April 1925, and the treaty came into force on 14 August 1925.[6]

Many additional nations acceded to the treaty after it was ratified by the original signatories, including several before it came into force. As of 2018, there are 46 parties to the treaty.[1]


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