Table of Contents

Polar Geopolitics?

Polar Geopolitics?

Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes

Edited by Richard C. Powell and Klaus Dodds

The polar regions (the Arctic and Antarctic) have enjoyed widespread public attention in recent years, as issues of conservation, sustainability, resource speculation and geopolitical manoeuvring have all garnered considerable international media interest. This critical collection of new and original papers – the first of its kind – offers a comprehensive exploration of these and other topics, consolidating the emergent field of polar geopolitics.

Chapter 1: Polar geopolitics

Richard C. Powell and Klaus Dodds

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, politics and public policy, international politics, international relations


On 18th October 2007, the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, informed its readers that there was a ëScramble for Antarctica: Argentina hits back after Britain makes land grabí (cited in Dodds 2010). The genesis for the story lay with a widely reported decision by the British government to submit geological and geophysical materials to a UN body called the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), pertaining to the outer continental shelves of various South Atlantic islands including the disputed Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas. The UK government, as a party to the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS), was not behaving in an unlawful manner, as such a headline might imply. As part of that legal process, parties to UNCLOS were obligated to deposit their submissions within ten years of ratification, and in the case of the UK, this meant that there was in effect a deadline of May 2009. If there was a scramble of sorts, it was more to do with a deadline imposed by UNCLOS ratification than one fomented by inter-state rivalries per se in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. The notion of Britain engaging in a ëland grabí, while useful for seizing the interest of the readers of the Daily Mail, tells us more about how remote regions such as the Antarctic and, as this book will make clear, the Arctic are represented in the first place.

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