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As Japan is considered a non-regional actor in Arctic governance, this paper begins with analysing how Japan navigates the web of Arctic governance and how it manages to create a coherent Arctic narrative and engages with the Arctic both inside and outside the region. The present research argues that the construction of an Arctic identity is a praxis performed through time that needs to be constantly reaffirmed. To illustrate this point, the paper then uses a lateral rather than linear approach to assess the influence of the Arctic on Japan at present. This paper assesses Japan’s engagement on the main stage where Arctic governance is performed (i.e. The Arctic Council) since the release of Japan’s Arctic Policy and under the Arctic Challenge for Sustainability project, Japan’s flagship program for Arctic research. Looking to the future, countries such as Japan who are willing to be involved in all parts of Arctic governance will have to make a choice about what kind of Arctic relationships they want to create and in which of these relationships Japan could invest more.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online

Areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) are covering nearly two-thirds of the world’s oceans and are rich in biological diversity. These also include the Polar Regions, where marine organisms adapted to extreme environments and led to increased scientific interest and activities, including bioprospecting activities. As a result, marine biodiversity is increasingly threatened. Thus, the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) was established to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity but left ABNJ and bioprospecting activities widely unregulated. In Antarctica, for instance, bioprospecting has raised concerns, and the matter has been discussed since 2002. As a result, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 69/292 concluded the establishment of a new international legally binding instrument (ILBI) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity for ABNJ. However, the inclusion of the Antarctic Treaty Area remains unclear. In light of the current BBNJ negotiations, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) only acknowledges the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) as the appropriate framework to regulate these activities in Antarctica. Further, it seems to aim for regulation under the ATS, if at all. Therefore, this paper discusses a solution-based approach for possible regulation of the collection and use of Antarctic marine biodiversity. The negotiations and achievements of the current BBNJ process will be taken into account, as they might provide support for the regulation of these issues in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online
Author: David Leary

Its isolation and extreme climate means Antarctica is one of the world’s richest regions for untouched geoheritage. The potential of mining in Antarctica is often talked of in public discourse as a future threat to Antarctica even though the prohibition on mining is absolute and is likely to stay so indefinitely. As such mining does not pose a realistic threat to Antarctica’s geoheritage. The impacts of scientific research and tourism pose more pressing challenges to Antarctica’s geoheritage. This paper considers emerging debates in the Antarctic Treaty System on the need for further protection of Antarctica’s geoheritage. After considering the concept of geoheritage the paper considers key threats to Antarctic geoheritage. The role of Antarctic Specially Protected Area system in the protection of Antarctica’s geoheritage is then considered as is the draft code of conduct on geosciences field research currently being developed within the Antarctic Treaty System. The final part of the paper then goes on to examine how the Antarctic Treaty system could in part draw on the experience of other international initiatives, including the frameworks associated with the UNESCO Global Geoparks movement in developing an Antarctic System for protection of geoheritage.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online

The demilitarisation provisions of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty are limited and contingent. Critically, a functional gap is enabled within the key Article I, which both prohibits ‘measures of a military nature’ and sanctions the use of military personnel and equipment in pursuit of ‘peaceful purposes’. None of the key terms and concepts are defined. With increasing focus on and in the Antarctic Treaty Area on interstate competition around resource access and regime control, and in particular the rapidly increasing geopolitical struggle between ‘the West’ and China both globally and within the Antarctic, and the transformation of what military activity actually entails, the existing demilitarisation principles are now inadequate. The failure to update these in the 60 years since the Antarctic Treaty was adopted, the lack of confidence that the historic Antarctic Treaty model of regional governance can itself manage the struggle, and indications over recent years that some states are even increasing the level of military entanglement with their Antarctic programmes, suggest it is now timely to reassess and respond to the case for substantive demilitarisation in the Antarctic Treaty Area.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online
Author: Yu Cao

This paper explores the reflections of Utqiaġvik community members on oil companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities within the region of North Slope, Alaska. The research question is: how have the people of Utqiaġvik responded to the CSR activities of oil companies whose oil extractive industry operations impact the region’s social, economic, and environmental welfare? In particular, this paper seeks to understand why CSR activities sometimes fail to achieve their purported goals. By interviewing residents from the community of Utqiaġvik, this paper obtained perspectives on the impacts of oil development on the local environment and community, bringing to light the limits of current CSR activities, such that this research might provide recommendations for rectifying CSR shortfalls. The argument is: while oil companies’ profit motives tend to restrict the potential of CSR activities, local people should be able to influence the types of CSR activities corporations pursue, given that they experience the local impacts of the industry. The paper concludes by offering recommendations to the oil companies regarding the nature and desired impacts of their CSR activities.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online

Regional fisheries organisations globally are feeling the impacts of non-compliant behaviour by both contracting and non-contracting parties. Non-compliance arising from activities such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, or failures by flag states to appropriately report the activities of their vessels, has resulted in damage to the environment and damage to the performance of regional fisheries management organisations themselves. As a result, many of these organisations are adopting and implementing a relatively new mechanism to tackle non-compliance: the compliance evaluation procedure. This article demonstrates that by adopting a compliance evaluation procedure, regional fisheries organisations are better placed to identify and address non-compliance in an effort to improve compliance with their conservation measures. It analyses in detail the procedure adopted by one particular organisation, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), to suggest that implementation of their procedure has improved transparency, accountability and enforcement. It is argued that the CCAMLR compliance evaluation procedure represents a model for other polar and high seas areas to promote sustainable, and responsible, fishing practices globally.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online
Author: Anna Petrétei

One of the most current challenges the Sami are facing is the rapid expansion of extractive industries throughout the Arctic region, creating obvious conflicts between states and Sámi people. European High North has already proven to be rich in mineral deposits. Furthermore, it is suggested that the world’s largest remaining untapped gas reserves and undeveloped oil reserves are located in the Arctic. Therefore, there is a growing pressure to conduct extractive industrial activities on the territories important for the Sámi, for instance on reindeer herding areas and reindeer migration routes. The expansion of extractive industrial developments causes significant challenges to the enjoyment of their human rights, unless effective procedural measures are in place to mitigate adverse impacts. The aim of this paper is to explore the possibility of integrating human rights impact assessment (HRIA) in existing license granting mechanisms, to examine how particular companies comply with human rights norms applicable to local and indigenous, and to scrutinise the possibility of these and other Northern mining companies to carry out HRIA in the future. The integration of HRIA would ensure that the special status and interests of Sámi people is properly taken into consideration when planning and implementing extractive industrial projects.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online
Author: Xueping Li

In the name of environmental protection, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting seems to have borrowed the paradigm of international trusteeship of the United Nations for managing the Antarctic land-based protected areas. By comparing and analysing the critical questions highly concerned, this paper offers preliminary thoughts on the development and refinement of the conception of land-based protected areas as a déjà vu system of international trusteeship and its surrounding legal applications and implications in continental Antarctica, and challenges the direction followed by this system in protecting Antarctic intrinsic values in legal discourse.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online

Whilst satellite observations over the Polar Regions yield vastly beneficial scientific knowledge, ethical questions complicate their use in the context of the Polar Regions, in particular, questions about military or strategic advantage vis-a-vis human security concerns. The Antarctic Treaty System is committed to use of its space for peaceful purposes which, in the fulfilment of high-level science, seems plausible. Yet where military endeavour is coupled with such scientific endeavour, or where global security concerns seek an entree to the knowledge acquired by such observation, the question of whether either Pole can remain free from human non-peaceful purpose is bedevilling.

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online