Monday, 29 June 2009

Self-rule for Greenland

by Kathryn Hadley

On November 25th last year, Greenland’s 39,000 voters participated in a referendum on the expansion of self-rule. Over 75% of the voters answered ‘yes’. On June 21st, as Greenland celebrated its national day, a new era of self-rule was introduced.

Home rule was expanded to the police and courts of law and Greenlandic - or Kalaallisut – became the official language. The 57,000 Greenlanders will also be recognised as a distinct people under international law with a right to self-determination. However, Denmark will still have the final say in defence and foreign policy matters.

Festivities began with a flag-raising ceremony and were notably attended by Denmark's Queen Margrethe and its prime minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen. These new moves towards increased independence from Denmark come 30 years after the introduction of the Home Rule law, in February 1979, in accordance with which Greenland became a special cultural community within the Kingdom of Denmark.

I published an article on the history behind the referendum in November in the January issue of the magazine. For further information, read Independent Means: Greenland's Referendum

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