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2011 | 1 | 137-160

Article title

Międzynarodowoprawny status archipelagu Wysp Alandzkich : kwestia demilitaryzacji i neutralizacji Alandów



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This article deals with the question of demilitarization and neutralization of the ?land Islands in respect to international law regulating this issue. In this paper it was not intented to go into details of all historical phases and changes of the ?land's status, but rather to concentrate on international treaties regulating this question, which are still in force. ?land is an autonomous, demilitarized and neutralized region of Finland with a largely Swedish-speaking population. The ?land Islands form an archipelago in the Baltic Sea. They are situated in the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia. Its legislative autonomy and a strong protection for its population's Swedish language and culture are enshrined in the Finnish constitution. The ?land Islands are located in a very strategically important place. There are three problems under international law connected with the ?land Islands: that is to say, demilitarization, neutralization and autonomy of ?land. After the Crimean war it was decided that Russia should not fortify the ?land Islands. The strategic position was one of the factors that influenced the decision of the Paris Peace Conference in 1856 to demilitarize the ?land Islands. After the Crimean War (1854-56) an appendix to the 1856 Treaty of Paris forbade Russia from establishing fortifications, maintaining or building up a military presence and naval forces on the islands. In 1917 Finland gained independence from Russia and ?land became for a number of years a source of controversy or even conflict between Finland and Sweden as a result of the ?landers' demand for ?land's reunification with Sweden. In 1921 the League of Nations resolved the ?land question. ?land remained a part of Finland but gained autonomy along with the historically rooted principles of neutrality and demilitarization. In October 1921 the Convention relating to the non-fortification and Neutralization of the ?land Islands was signed by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The Western powers did not regard Bolshevik Russia as a sovereign state after the revolution of 1917 and Russia (the Soviet Union) was not a party to this convention. The treaties that regulatedthe demilitarization and neutralization were: 1) the 1856 Convention on the Demilitarisation of the ?land Islands (annexed to the 1856 Paris Peace Treaty), 2) the 1921 Convention on the Demilitarization and Neutralization of the ?land Islands, 3) bilateral treaty of 1940 between Finland and Russia (the Soviet Union) on the demilitarization of the ?land Islands and 4) the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty. There is no cause to doubt the continuance in force of the demilitarization and neutralization of ?land. The treaties and agreements of 1921,1940 and 1947 are still in force. ?land's demilitarization and neutralization remain beyond question, despite the changes in the political context. The ?land Islands are both demilitarized and neutralized, the main purpose is to keep it completely outside the armed actions of armed conflicts. ?land's status received renewed attention in the 1990s in view of the changes taking place in Europe. The 1994 treaty on Finland's accession to the EU recognizes in its Protocol No. 2, that the ?land Islands enjoy a special status under international law. Furthermore, another legal regulation dealing with this question is the Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Convention on the protection of war victims (Article 60) obligates States Parties to respect demilitarized zones during international armed conflicts. ?land's demilitarized and neutralized status has a strong foundation and position in the international law. Some experts and writers have described this status as a example of a "permanent settlement" or "objective regime" in international law. According to another experts (H. Rotkirch), the special status of the ?land Islands is of such long standing " that it has without doubt become part of customary international law and is thus binding on the international community as a whole". Since 1970, ?land has had its own representation in the Nordic Council and participates in the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Since 1989, ?land is a member of the Council of Europe. One might also mention the fact that, ?land stands outside the EU tax union and has retained the limitations on ownership of land and operation of business. 






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