Faroes Signs Interim Agreement for Northern Continental Shelf Boundaries

Mr. Joannes Eidesgaard, the Prime Minister of the Faroes, signed an agreement on the establishment of boundaries for the continental shelf area beyond 200 nautical miles north of the Faroes. The parties to the agreement are the Faroes/Denmark, Norway and Iceland. The Prime Minister signed the agreement alongside Per Stig Moeller, Valgerour Sverrisdottir and Jonas Gahr Store, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs for Denmark, Iceland and Norway, respectively. The signing took place in New York in conjunction with their participation in the meeting of the General Assembly of the UN.

The agreement is notable in that this is the first time that the countries surrounding the Faroes have reached such an agreement regarding the boundaries beyond 200 nautical miles. The Prime Minister noted in comments about the agreement that it would make it easier for all three countries to develop plans on how to best utilize the seabed in the future.

Pursuant to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, all costal countries have territorial rights to the continental shelf extending 200 nautical miles. Some countries may, however, examine the possibility of an extension of their rights over the continental shelf, if they can demonstrate that their continental shelf extends beyond the 200 nautical mile boundary consistent with the provisions of the Convention. The Faroes/Denmark are among the countries that can exploit this opportunity. The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf assesses the documentation presented and makes a recommendation. Based on this recommendation, the costal country can then set its territorial boundaries.

With regard to the area north of the Faroes, Norway and Iceland can also possibly claim territory beyond their respective 200 nautical mile limits. Given the potential overlap of boundary claims, the countries ultimately need to negotiate the eventual boundaries claimed by each state.

As a consequence of entering into the agreement, the countries agree to follow certain procedures on how to present their demands to the UN Commission and how they shall determine the boundaries between the respective parties. When the time comes, the boundaries will be stipulated via a two-party agreement. The boundary agreement will not be finalized until all parties have received their respective recommendation from the UN Commission. The parties acknowledge that the agreement now in place shall not be deemed to indicate that they know the decision of the UN Commission or that they are attempting in any manner to influence the decision of the UN Commission by engaging in a joint declaration of intent regarding their respective boundaries.


1. The seabed deemed of interest to the parties extends some 350 nautical miles from the Faroes, Iceland, Jan Mayen and mainland Norway.

2. The area in question covers some 111,500 square kilometers.

3. The boundary solution gives the Faroes 27,000 square kilometers, Iceland 29,000 square kilometers and Norway about 55,500 square kilometers.

4. If the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf determines that sections of this area are not natural extensions of the continental shelf, then the concerned costal country must relinquish its claim to those sections. 5. If the UN Commission determines that one of the countries does not have any right to its respective claim, then the share of that country granted under the agreement will be reduced to that consistent with the declaration of the UN Commission, and the surplus, if any, will be subsequently divided between the other countries.