Nordic Council working group: The Helsinki Treaty should cover security policy

09.04.24 | News
Gwenaël Akira Helmsdal Carré
The Helsinki Treaty should cover security, defence and civil preparedness, according to a working group set up by the Presidium of the Nordic Council to consider potential updates to the 1962 treaty, which forms the basis for official Nordic co-operation but has not been updated since 1995.

The working group presented its proposals in a report to the Nordic Council Theme Session in Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands on 9 April, the main theme of which was safety, peace and preparedness in the North Atlantic. The group has been working on mapping the need for any updates to the treaty since last summer. In light of the new security policy reality in the Nordic Region and Europe after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and Finland and Sweden joining NATO, the group believes it is important that the treaty reflects the new challenges and opportunities faced by the Nordic countries.

On many topics, it might be said that Nordic co-operation has not developed in the same way as other forms of international co-operation in recent decades. If we do not revise and amend the Helsinki Treaty now, we run the risk of Nordic co-operation losing some of its importance in the near future. 

Hanna Katrín Friðriksson, chair of the working group

Climate policy and freedom of movement

In addition to the proposal to include security, defence and preparedness, the group has also made a number of recommendations for updates that would better reflect the world of today. For example, the treaty does not mention climate policy, even though it is now an important aspect of Nordic co-operation. The group would also like the treaty to highlight freedom of movement.

The Presidium of the Nordic Council will consider the proposals in June and decide whether to recommend that the Nordic governments update the treaty.

Lively debate on the status of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland

After the presentation, the Theme Session also debated the calls by the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland to be made equal parties to the Helsinki Treaty. It was decided that the question will be discussed further at future meetings.

The final paragraph was added to this article at 15:40 on 9 April after the plenary debate.