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Alan D. Hemmings


The Antarctic regime does not face imminent collapse, but its apparent calm disguises significant ecological and geopolitical instability. Over the past 15 years, the picture of human activity in Antarctica has transformed from one still heavily terrestrially focussed, dominated by national Antarctic programmes, largely science focussed, and situated within a Cold-War geopolitics, to one where diverse activities, increasingly including the marine environment, involving a much wider group of actors and commercial imperatives, is the norm. Globalism has brought new pressures, and increased intensity of pressures to Antarctica. Whilst the existing Antarctic Treaty System retains a theoretical capacity to develop standards and provide regulation, it has shown no obvious inclination to do so for a decade and a half. Critically, the system seems to have lost confidence in Antarctic exceptionalism as its organising principle, and to lack administrative capacity to address substantive issues. Given technology’s overcoming of the natural defences of Antarctica, if globalism now denies us the capacity to treat anywhere differently and thereby disables the principle of Antarctic exceptionalism upon which international governance of the region was predicated, Antarctica faces severe difficulties. This paper argues for continuing special treatment of Antarctica and a new deliberative exceptionalism. It suggests that significant unresolved issues within the present Antarctic dispensation need attention, notably the beginning of a debate on the abandonment of territorial sovereignty claims, a more coherent institutional development and the establishment of a political level Meeting of Parties in addition to the current officials-only meetings.

Laurence Cordonnery, Alan D. Hemmings and Lorne Kriwoken

The paper examines the process and context of international efforts to designate Marine Protected Areas (mpas) in the Southern Ocean. The relationship between the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (camlr Convention) and the Madrid Protocol is examined in relation to legal, political and administrative norms and practices. A contextual overview of the Antarctic mpa system is considered, followed by an analysis of the overlapping competencies of the camlr Commission (ccamlr) and the Madrid Protocol. The Antarctic mpa debate is placed in a wider international legal context of the management of global oceans space in areas beyond national jurisdiction. We provide an analysis of the politico-legal discourse and point to complicating factors within, and external to, the Antarctic system. The concluding section suggests options for breathing new life into the Southern Ocean mpa discourse.

Alan D. Hemmings, Sanjay Chaturvedi, Elizabeth Leane, Daniela Liggett and Juan Francisco Salazar

Whilst nationalism is a recognised force globally, its framing is predicated on experience in conventionally occupied parts of the world. The familiar image of angry young men waving Kalashnikovs means that the idea that nationalism might be at play in Antarctica has to overcome much instinctive resistance, as well as the tactical opposition of the keepers of the present Antarctic political arrangements. The limited consideration of nationalism in Antarctica has generally been confined to the past, particularly “Heroic-Era” and 1930s–1940s expeditions. This article addresses the formations of nationalism in the Antarctic present. Antarctic nationalism need not present in the same shape as nationalisms elsewhere to justify being called nationalism. Here it occurs in a virtual or mediated form, remote from the conventional metropolitan territories of the states and interests concerned. The key aspect of Antarctic nationalism is its contemporary form and intensity. We argue that given the historic difficulties of Antarctic activities, and the geopolitical constraints of the Cold War, it has only been since the end of that Cold War that a more muscular nationalism has been able to flourish in Antarctica. Our assessment is that there at least 11 bases upon which Antarctic nationalism might arise: (i) formally declared claims to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica; (ii) relative proximity of Antarctica to one’s metropolitan territory; (iii) historic and institutional associations with Antarctica; (iv) social and cultural associations; (v) regional or global hegemonic inclinations; (vi) alleged need in relation to resources; (vii) contested uses or practices in Antarctica; (viii) carry-over from intense antipathies outside Antarctica; (ix) national pride in, and mobilisation through, national Antarctic programmes; (x) infrastructure and logistics arrangements; or (xi) denial or constraint of access by one’s strategic competitors or opponents. In practice of course, these are likely to be manifested in combination. The risks inherent in Antarctic nationalism are the risks inherent in unrestrained nationalism anywhere, compounded by its already weak juridical situation. In Antarctica, the intersection of nationalism with resources poses a particular challenge to the regional order and its commitments to shareable public goods such as scientific research and environmental protection.