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  • Author or Editor: Alan D. Hemmings x
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In: New Zealand Yearbook of International Law
In: New Zealand Yearbook of International Law
In: New Zealand Yearbook of International Law
In: New Zealand Yearbook of International Law
In: New Zealand Yearbook of International Law
In: New Zealand Yearbook of International Law

Abstract

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.

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
In: New Zealand Yearbook of International Law
In: New Zealand Yearbook of International Law