New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Tim Stephens and David L. VanderZwaag
Chapter 15: The durability of the 'Antarctic model' and Southern Ocean governance
It is now well over 50 years since the conclusion of the Antarctic Treaty, the foundation of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). At the 1959 Washington Conference, 12 nations gathered to draft the agreement that formally recognized 'that it is in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord', and '[a]cknowledging the substantial contributions to scientific knowledge resulting from international cooperation in scientific investigation in Antarctica'. These twin goals, of preserving peace on the Antarctic continent and promoting polar science, remain as important as ever in the face of global climate change. The success of the ATS as a cooperative model for regulating human activity and environmental impact over a large and physically challenging environment is widely acknowledged. In 2009, as the fiftieth anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty was celebrated, Baker reflected on its achievements: We can … be grateful that so far the treaty and its additions and the institutional apparatus that provides advice have, without major disagreements for 50 years, functioned effectively, particularly in the protection of the environment … The treaty has come to be viewed as a good example of what can be achieved by a mixture of politicians and scientists. The Treaty is particularly notable for having allowed political differences (over sovereignty claims) to be set aside so as not to stand in the way of important scientific endeavours.
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