Nuuk (Godthab)
57,695 (July 2012 est.)
Margrethe II of Denmark
Queen since 14 January 1972
The monarch is hereditary and holds that position for life or until
abdication. The high commissioner is selected by the monarch

Next scheduled election: None
Jakob Edvard Kuupik Kleist
Prime Minister since 12 June 2009
Prime minister is elected by parliament (usually the leader of the
majority party); election last held 2 June 2009

Next scheduled election: 2013
Inuit 89%, Danish and other 11% (2009)
Evangelical Lutheran, traditional Inuit spiritual beliefs
Part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979 ; 3 districts
Legal system is based Danish law;
Executive: Monarch represented by High Commissioner; Prime Minister elected by Greenlandic Parliament
Legislative: Unicameral Parliament or Landstinget (31 seats; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of
proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 2 June 2009 (next to be held by 2014)
Judicial: High Court or Landsret (appeals can be made to the Ostre Landsret or Eastern Division of the High Court
or Supreme Court in Copenhagen)
Greenlandic (East Inuit), Danish, English
Greenland was home to a number of Paleo-Eskimo cultures in prehistory, the latest of which (the Early Dorset culture)
disappeared around the year 200 AD. Hereafter, the island seems to have been uninhabited for some eight centuries.
Icelandic settlers found the land uninhabited when they arrived c.982. They established three settlements near the very
southwestern tip of the island, where they thrived for the next few centuries, and then disappeared after over 450 years
of habitation. The fjords of the southern part of the island were lush and had a warmer climate at that time, possibly due
to what was called the Medieval Warm Period. These remote communities thrived and lived off farming, hunting and
trading with the motherland, and when the Scandinavian monarchs converted their domains to Christianity, a bishop
was installed in Greenland as well. The settlements seem to have coexisted relatively peacefully with the Inuit, who had
migrated southwards from the Arctic islands of North America around 1200. In 1261, Greenland became part of the
Kingdom of Norway. Norway in turn entered into the Kalmar Union in 1397 and later the personal union of
Denmark-Norway. After almost five hundred years, the Scandinavian settlements simply vanished, possibly due to
famine during the fifteenth century in the Little Ice Age, when climatic conditions deteriorated, and contact with Europe
was lost. Bones from this late period were found to be in a condition consistent with malnutrition. Some believe the
settlers were wiped out by bubonic plague or exterminated by the Inuit. Other historians have speculated that Basque
or English pirates or slave traders from the Barbary Coast contributed to the extinction of the Greenlandic communities.
Denmark-Norway reasserted its latent claim to the colony in 1721. The island's ties with Norway were severed by the
Treaty of Kiel of 1814, through which Sweden gained control over mainland Norway while Denmark retained all of
their common overseas possessions, which, at that time, included small territories in India, West Africa and the West
Indies, as well as the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. Norway occupied and claimed parts of (then uninhabited)
East Greenland aka Erik the Red's Land in July 1931, claiming that it constituted Terra nullius. Norway and Denmark
agreed to settle the matter at the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1933, where Norway lost. During World
War II, Greenland's connection to Denmark was severed on April 9, 1940 when Denmark was occupied by Germany,
and Greenland was on its own. Through the cryolite from the mine in Ivigtut, Greenland was able to pay for goods
bought in the United States and Canada. During the War the system of government changed. Eske Brun was governor
and ruled the Island via a 1925 law concerning the governing of the Island where, under extreme circumstances, the
governors could take control. The other governor, Aksel Svane, was transferred to the United States as leader of the
commission to supply Greenland. The Sirius Patrol, guarding the Northeastern shores of Greenland using dog sleds,
detected and destroyed several German weather stations, giving Denmark a better position in the postwar turmoil.
Greenland had been a protected and thereby isolated society until 1940. The Danish government, which governed the
colonies of Greenland, had been convinced that the society would face exploitation from the outside world or even
extinction if the country was opened up. During World War II, though, Greenland developed a sense of self-reliance
during its period of self-government and independent communication with the outside world. However, in 1946 a
commission (with the highest Greenlandic council Landsrådet as participant) recommended patience and no radical
reformation of the system. Two years later the first step towards an alteration of the governing of Greenland was
initiated as a grand commission was founded. In 1950 the report (G-50) was presented. Greenland was to be a
modern welfare society with Denmark as the sponsor and example. In 1953 Greenland was made an equal part of the
Danish Kingdom. In 1979 home rule was granted.
The Folketing approved devolution in 1978 and the next year
enacted home rule under a local Landsting. On 23 February 1982, a bare majority (53%) of Greenland's population
voted to leave the EEC, a process which lasted until 1985. Greenland Home Rule has become increasingly
Greenlandized, rejecting Danish and avoiding regional dialects to standardize the country under the language and culture
of the Kalaallit (West Greenland Inuit). The capital Godthåb was renamed Nuuk in 1979; a local flag was adopted in
1985; the Danish KGH became the locally-administered Kalaallit Niuerfiat (now KNI A/S) in 1986. Following a
successful referendum on self-government in 2008, the local parliament's powers were expanded and Danish was
removed as an official language in 2009.

Source:   Wikipedia: History of Greenland
The economy remains critically dependent on exports of shrimp and fish, income from resource exploration and
extraction, and on a substantial subsidy from the Danish Government. The subsidy is budgeted to be about $650 million
in 2012, approximately 56% of government revenues in 2012 for the year. The public sector, including publicly owned
enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. Greenland's real GDP contracted
about 1% in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown, but is estimated to have grown 2% in 2010 and 3% in
2011. The relative ease with which Greenland has weathered the economic crisis is due to increased hydrocarbon and
mineral exploration and extraction activities, a high level of construction activity in the Nuuk area and the increasing
price of fish and shrimp. During the last decade the Greenland Home Rule Government (GHRG) pursued conservative
fiscal and monetary policies, but public pressure has increased for better schools, health care and retirement systems.
The Greenlandic economy has benefited from increasing catches and exports of shrimp, Greenland halibut and, more
recently, crabs. Due to Greenland's continued dependence on exports of fish - which accounted for 89% of exports in
2010 - the economy remains very sensitive to foreign developments. International consortia are increasingly active in
exploring for hydrocarbon resources off Greenland's western coast, and international studies indicate the potential for
oil and gas fields in northern and northeastern Greenland. In May 2007 a US aluminum producer concluded a
memorandum of understanding with the Greenland Home Rule Government to build an aluminum smelter and a power
generation facility, which takes advantage of Greenland's abundant hydropower potential. Within the area of mining,
olivine sand continues to be produced and gold production has resumed in south Greenland. Tourism also offers
another avenue of economic growth for Greenland, with increasing numbers of cruise lines now operating in
Greenland's western and southern waters during the peak summer tourism season.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Greenland)
Politics of Greenland takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic Danish dependency,
whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Greenland is a
self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979. Executive power is exercised by the
government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Greenland (known as Landsting).
The party system is dominated by the social democratic Forward, the separatist and socialist Inuit Community and the
conservative liberal Feeling of Community. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

A non-binding referendum on Greenland's autonomy was held on 25 November 2008. It was passed with 75%
approval (63% in Nuuk) and a 72% turnout. The referendum was announced by Prime Minister Hans Enoksen on 2
January 2008.Enoksen also announced the launch of an information and discussion campaign on the issue of
self-government. This included town hall meetings throughout the country.

Parliamentary elections were held in Greenland  on 2 June 2009. Prime Minister  Hans Enoksen announced the election
date on 15 April 2009, stating that he would prefer for a newly elected parliament to administer Greenland when the
self-government reform takes effect on 21 June 2009. The reform will give more power to the Greenlandic parliament
with decisions on most issues being devolved to the parliament but defence and foreign affairs remaining under the
control of Denmark.

On 7 June 2009, Community of the People announced that it would form a coalition with the Democrats and the
Independents. The pro-independence, left-wing opposition party, Inuit Ataqatigiit (Greenlandic for: Community of the
People), led by Kuupik Kleist, won the election, getting 43.7% of the votes.  The governing Siumut Party (Greenlandic
for Forward) led by Prime Minister Hans Enoksen took 26.5% of the vote and lost control of the government for the
first time in 30 years.
Source:   Wikipedia: Politics of Greenland; Wikipedia: Greenland self-government referendum, 2008
managed dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Canada's
Ellesmere Island and Greenland; Denmark (Greenland) and Norway have made submissions to the Commission on the
Limits of the Continental shelf (CLCS) and Russia is collecting additional data to augment its 2001 CLCS submission
U.S. State Department
United Nations Human
Rights Council
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Freedom House
None reported.
None reported.
Danish Institute For
Human RIghts
2011 Human Rights Report: Denmark (including Greenland)
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
11 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
24, 2012

The territories of Greenland and the Faroe Islands have democratically elected home rule governments whose powers may
encompass all matters except foreign and national security affairs, police services, and monetary matters. Greenlanders and Faroese
have the same rights throughout the kingdom as other citizens. Each territory elects two representatives to the Danish parliament.

Four citizens of other than Danish, Greenlandic, or Faroese origin were elected to the parliament in the 2011 elections. There was
one member of an ethnic minority in the 23-seat cabinet. In the November 2009 municipal elections, 65 persons of non-Danish
ethnic origin were elected to municipal councils.

The law protects the rights of the indigenous Inuit inhabitants of Greenland, whose legal system seeks to accommodate their
customs, provides for the use of laypersons as judges, and sentences most prisoners to holding centers (rather than prisons),
where they are encouraged to work, hunt, or fish during the day. Their civil, political, and economic rights are protected effectively
throughout the kingdom, including the right to nondiscriminatory treatment in employment, education, housing, and other services.
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4 February 2011
Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 44 of the Convention
Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child:



12.        The Committee welcomes legislative action undertaken by the State party that have direct bearing on the lives of children,
including those regarding parental responsibility and day care as well as the Child’s Reform of 2010 and its objective of increasing
support for children and young people with special needs to ensure equal opportunities in personal development and health.  The
Committee, however, remains concerned that there is no legislative framework of a more comprehensive nature covering the full
scope of the Convention. It is also concerned that child rights legislation in Greenland and the Faroe Islands has yet to be
harmonized with the principles and provisions of the Convention.
13.        The Committee recommends that the State party, including the authorities in Greenland and the Faroe Islands, take all
necessary measures to ensure that legislation and administrative regulations throughout the territory of the State party conform fully
to the principles and provisions of the Convention and the two Optional Protocols, that new legislation is assessed in due course
and evaluated  in terms of its impact on children, and that it considers drafting a rights-based Child Act encompassing all rights
under the Convention. In this respect, the Committee urges the State party to ensure that the proposed reform to the Greenland Act
on Help to Children and Youth, to be undertaken with UNICEF support, is a comprehensive exercise taking full account of all rights
and of the views of children.
21.        The Committee is concerned that making municipalities entirely responsible – by virtue of the Municipal Reform of 2007 –
for the financing, supply and allocation of social services with only partial State reimbursement for high-cost cases may lead to
situations where children in some municipalities, particularly the most disadvantaged, do not enjoy the full range of necessary social
services. Furthermore, while noting that the National Appeals Board can address situations in which such discrepancies arise, the
Committee is concerned that this could in practice make the right to equality of resource allocation subject to the delays and
uncertainties of an appeal process. The Committee is also concerned that insufficient resources have been allocated for the
realization of the right to education for children in Greenland and the Faroe Islands, and for mental health services throughout the
State party’s territory.     
22.        The Committee urges the State party to ensure that its allocation of resources to all sectors covering child rights remains
high and is equitable, bearing in mind the need for financial support to those municipalities which require it in order to ensure fully
the realization of all rights of all children, and that the budget requirements, particularly in education and mental health services, are
fully met.

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Political Rights Score: 1
Civil Liberties Score: 1
Status: Free
Denmark (Greenland does not have its own report)

The territories of Greenland and the Faroe Islands each have two representatives in the Folketing. They also have their own elected
institutions, which have power over almost all areas of governance.

Women enjoy equal rights in Demark and represent half of the workforce. However, disparities have been reported in the Faroe
Islands and Greenland. Denmark is a destination and transit point for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual
exploitation. Following the 2003 adoption of legislation that defined and criminalized such trafficking, the government began
working regularly with nongovernmental organizations in their trafficking-prevention campaigns.

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Annual Report 2012
enmark (including Greenland)
3 May 2012

Counter-terror and security

In February, a hearing was conducted into the government review of counter-terrorism legislation in the previous year, following
concerns that the review had been inadequate and insufficiently thorough.

On 2 November, the government announced that the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) would investigate the use of
its territory for rendition flights conducted by the CIA since 2001. The investigation, however, would be limited to flights involving
Greenland and not all Danish territory. Furthermore, the DIIS would only be allowed to review documents from a previous Danish
inquiry held in 2008, and investigators would not be allowed to compel witness testimony or request any new information. In light
of these restrictions the investigation would not constitute an independent, impartial, thorough and effective investigation as
required by international human rights law and standards.
Click here to read more»
Human Rights Watch World Report 2001
This report reviews human rights practices in seventy countries and describes events from November 1999 through
October 2000.


Marriage and Discrimination Based on Family Configuration

Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden had provisions for registered partnerships, which did not provide all of the
benefits of civil marriage—often according limited or no adoption rights, in particular—and were generally limited only to citizens
or to residents who had lived in the country for several years
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Premier of Greenland, Mr. Kuupik Kleist Statement at the New Year’s Reception,
January 12, 2012

To the people of Greenland, the Arctic Ministerial was a concrete evidence of the sense of interconnectedness that we have with,
not only the circumpolar Arctic, but also the world at large. The tragic events of the deadly tsunami, which hit Japan last spring,
and the cruel massacre of innocent young people in Utøya, Norway in the summer affected us immensely and like many others we
sent messages of condolence and words of consolation to the affected people.

We were also immensely saddened by the death of Vaclav Havel. As a true democrat, he inspired his fellow countrymen and
women as well as the entire world to believe in standing up for democracy and human rights.

By the turn of the year, Denmark took over the Presidency of the European Union. Greenland is highly appreciative of the
partnership that we have with the EU and the values that we share. As our current agreements with the EU expire by the end of
2012 and of 2013, respectively, we are now negotiating new agreements and looking at the possibilities of broadening the areas of
cooperation. I wish the Danish government the best of luck with the Presidency and the daunting tasks that will be theirs for the
next 6 months.

Concurrent with Danish EU Presidency, Greenland will assume the Chairmanship of the OCT association and host the annual OCT
ministerial as well as the trilateral OCT forum between the OCT’s, EU member states and the Commission, which will be held in
Greenland in the fall of 2012. A constructive dialogue between the parties is important and we look forward to promote the
interests of the OCT’s during our Chairmanship.

As can been seen we are already in full working mode, but sometimes, we also get an opportunity to combine work with fun, and
for me this reception is one such opportunity. In closing, allow me to express, my own and my government’s gratitude for the
good cooperation and friendship in the year that has passed.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year and may we all be able to continue the good cooperation and the friendship in
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Dane fights for Greenland prisoners
Posted on
23 Mar 2012

A Danish prison inspector has spoken out about the practice of sending Greenlandic inmates to Danish gaols, claiming it
contravenes their human rights to maintain close ties with their families.

Hans Jørgen Elbo argues that Denmark would probably lose a case in the European Court of Human Rights if the Greenlanders
serving sentences at Herstedvester Prison made a stand.

As Greenland currently has no permanent jails, around 20 inmates have been sent to Herstedvester. Prisoners have been housed in
Denmark since 1952, and the construction of Greenland’s first prison is still to be completed after various setbacks since 2007.

Elbo was publicly reprimanded for his comments by Annette Esdorf, deputy CEO of the prison service (Kriminalforsorgen), at a
meeting last week. He is unrepentant, however, claiming no one has been able to prove that the practice does not violate the
prisoners’ rights.

Speaking to Politiken, Peter Scharff Smith of the human rights Institute for Menneskerettigheder, said he agrees with the inspector.

“Being forcibly removed thousands of miles from your family is undeniably an aggressive measure that conflicts with the right to a
family life that is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights,” he said.

Read more:
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Unacceptable and extremely reprehensible treatment of a pension case

23 February 2011

An individual, A, complained on 23 February 2011 to the Ombudsman that K Municipality had not answered his objections of 21
November 2008 against
calculating his retirement pension, and that the municipality had not replied to A's reminders to the

The Ombudsman found that a total processing time of over 3 years, which municipality still has not ruled on the objection raised
pension calculation is unacceptable and extremely flawed.

The Ombudsman considered it important that the municipality had not replied to The Social Security Appeals Tribunal's inquiries
into the matter and only after about a year
descendants Appeals Tribunal's decision on the case back.

The Ombudsman recommended that the municipality soon made ​​a decision that train specifically on A's objections to municipal
pension calculation.
Ombudsman also found it very reprehensible that the municipality does not answered A's reminders in the case.

As a result of that municipality had committed several serious breaches of duty in same case history, the Ombudsman informed
Lovudvalget in Inatsisartut
and local council under the Parliament Act No. 8 of 3 December 2009 on the Ombudsman for
Inatsisartut § 23 (J. No. 2011-104-0013)
On 23 February 2011 I received a complaint from A that K Municipality not
had ruled on his objections to the municipality's calculation of his
retirement in 2009.

My final comments
I have, by separate letter and the copy of this letter informed A about my consider the matter.

I await the then municipal follow-up on my recommendation. "

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Represented by
Mikaela Engell
High Commissioner since 01 April 2011
Click map for larger view
Click flag for Country Report
Kalaallit Nunaat
(part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing
overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979)
Joined United Nations:  25 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Click here
Updated 31 August 2012
None reported.