The New Zealand legal scholar Miriam Cullen is currently in Greenland to investigate if the country can take lessons from an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.
By Ole Ellekrog
When she worked as a legal researcher in Copenhagen, Miriam Cullen often heard that Denmark and Greenland have a unique relationship. A relationship that cannot be compared to any other countries.
But Miriam Cullen did not entirely agree. Because from a legal perspective, Greenland’s relationship with Denmark is comparable to other colonial relationships. In fact, even if you would not think so, in the Pacific Ocean lies a little archipelago called the Cook Islands that in many ways is similar to Greenland. More about these similarities further down.
First another question: why is it interesting for a researcher to compare Greenland to a South Sea island?
It is interesting because the Cook Islands has a more independent relationship with its colonial power New Zealand than Greenland has with Denmark. Therefore, the so-called Free Association Model, which is the type of legal agreement the Cook Islands has with New Zealand, is inspiring people in Greenland.
”In a day-to-day sense, you wouldn’t feel much difference if you implemented this model in Greenland. But if you did, Greenland could, without doubt, become its own state and would be able to make its own decisions in questions of foreign policy and security,” Miriam Cullen tells Arctic Hub.
”And with the recent activism in Greenland, we have also seen an increased interest in the Free Association Model,” Miriam Cullen said.
”The thing that makes this comparison useful is that you can see another way of doing things.” Mirriam Cullen
Similarities despite difference in geographies
We will return to the Free Association Model later. But let’s now look at why the Cook Islands and Greenland are worth comparing.
The Cook Islands and Greenland have completely different geographies, and they lie on opposite sides of the Earth. In spite of this, there are some similarities between the two, Miriam Cullen points out. Both places possess populations in the tens of thousands, are majority indigenous, have close relationships to natural environment, and have endured a history of colonization.
SWIPE THE PHOTOS: Just like in Greenland, there are both mountains and beaches on The Cook Islands – they are just a bit more lush. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.