The Faroe Islands and the Arctic: Genesis of a Strategy


  • Alyson J.K. Bailes
  • Beinta í Jákupsstovu



Small states, autonomous territories, Arctic, Nordic region, strategy making.


The Faroe Islands, a non-sovereign nation within the Kingdom of Denmark, have become the latest actors in the extended Arctic region to prepare their own strategy on Arctic affairs. A working group report of April 2013 predicts peaceful Arctic development that could bring profit for the Faroes but also new challenges notably in the field of civil security. Its detailed sections contain recommendations on economic opportunities especially linked with increased shipping and fisheries; research and education; the environment; and maritime safety and emergency response. The report is a professional product, reflecting years of Faroese engagement in Arctic research, fisheries, and international cooperation in the Arctic Council and elsewhere. It shows how Arctic considerations are pushing the Faroes towards acquiring more independent capacities, including new legal rights and institutional participation, given their already extensive relevant competences and the differences between their needs and Denmark’s. Further, some features of the Faroes’ response to the challenges facing them mirror the finds of ‘small state’ studies and confirm that non-sovereign entities having reached a certain level of autonomy can (mutatis mutandis) have similar external agendas, and seek similar solutions, to states of comparable size. While the report’s conclusions have already been accepted by the Faroese Parliament, some question-marks remain over Faroese capacity to realize its potentially costly recommendations.

Author Biographies

Alyson J.K. Bailes

Adjunct Professor, University of Iceland.

Beinta í Jákupsstovu

Associate professor in Political Science at Molde University College, Norway.




How to Cite

Bailes, A. J., & Jákupsstovu, B. í. (2013). The Faroe Islands and the Arctic: Genesis of a Strategy. Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 9(2), 531–548.



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