Development of Antarctic Governance


This presentation examines the operation of the Antarctic Treaty on its fiftieth anniversary from the perspective of Antarctic governance. It addresses the imaginative provisions of the Treaty that established and have maintained Antarctica as a zone of peace devoted to cutting edge scientific research. It further describes how the Treaty Parties met the challenges posed by possible resource exploitation: first, through conclusion of the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – a pioneering, ecosystem-based conservation agreement; and second through negotiation of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty that establishes a framework for environmental protection under the Treaty, including a ban on mineral resource activities in Antarctica. Negotiation of these new agreements – accompanied by the opening of the system to new members and observers and experts – marked the evolution of the Antarctic Treaty from a limited purpose agreement – albeit unique and precedent-setting – into an overall system of governance.Key elements in Antarctic governance derive from the Antarctic Treaty itself – in particular, the bifocal approach reflected in Article IV, consensus-based decision-making and the activities criterion. They provide essential bases for Antarctic problem solving, whether under the Treaty or in subsequent instruments built upon the Treaty. The suite of techniques that characterize Antarctic governance also includes the ecosystem management approach of CCAMLR, as well as the precautionary, risk-based management techniques and the process of science-policy interactions that have evolved under it. A final element is reliance on the results of scientific research and observations in Antarctica as a basis for Consultative action and for evaluating the effectiveness of such action once implemented.


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Dr. Michael Richardson United Kingdom


Dr. Marie Jacobsson Principal Legal Advisor on International Law, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Sweden
Ambassador R. Rucker Scully United States
Professor David Walton Professor Emeritus, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom


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