The ATCM: Where is it Headed after Establishment of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat?


The Antarctic Treaty was concluded to deal with the strategic vacuum in the South Pole region. It did so in a supremely pragmatic manner, with the Parties adopting in Article IV an “agreement to disagree” on the exact status of the territory. This compromise has not only worked very well, but on the basis of the original Treaty a comprehensive regulatory regime has been developed to manage the Antarctic environment. This management regime, is, however, decidedly weak on the implementation side. At the same time, economic and technological change is rapidly bringing Antarctica out of its isolation from the rest of the world. The demand for access to Antarctica for all kinds of purposes will continue to grow for a long time to come. Also, changes in the global climate system pose a growing threat to the survival of the Antarctic ecosystem.A new, intensified partnership between the Antarctic Treaty Parties, non-governmental organizations and commercial enterprises active in Antarctica is needed to deal with these challenges and to preserve Antarctica as a zone of peace, science and environmental protection. Such a partnership should focus on a closer cooperation between the Parties, a strengthening of the institutions of the ATCM and joint, rather than purely national implementation of the Antarctic regulatory regime.


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A.H. Zakri Director of the Centre on Global Sustainability Studies, Universiti Sains; Vice President, Third World Academy of Sciences; Former Director, United Nations University - Institute of Advanced Studies, Malaysia


Dr. Karl Erb Director, Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation, United States
Dr. José Retamales Director, Chilean Antarctic Institute and Chair of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs - COMNAP, Chile
Mr. Jan Huber Former Executive Secretary, Antarctic Treaty Secretariat, The Netherlands
Dr. Harlan Cohen Advisor on Ocean Governance and International Institutions, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, United States


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