Neoliberal and Constructivist Analyses of Normative Evolution
Chapter 3: Frozen in Time: Minerals and the Campaign to Preserve Antarctica
We are all concerned with protection of that continent for present and future generations. (Sveneld Evteev1) INTRODUCTION Humanity has looked to Antarctica for centuries with dreams of undiscovered mineral wealth. However, it was not until the 1970s that this potential became a feasible economic reality and outside corporate forces began to pressure states to modify the existing Antarctic regime, which disallowed mining. At the same time, various ENGOs were determined that the Antarctic environment be preserved unspoilt in perpetuity. With the support of key defecting states, in 1991 they achieved this goal with the adoption of the Madrid Protocol, allowing Antarctica to be ‘locked away’ for the foreseeable future. The case of Antarctica and the fate of its mineral wealth make a fascinating test of the strengths and weaknesses of both neoliberal institutionalism and constructivism. On the one hand, it is a textbook example of cooperation, with the creation of a regime to govern the continent. This started with scientists cooperating, despite nationalist antagonisms, at the height of the Cold War. Given the privileging of consensus decisions within the resultant regime by the Contracting Parties, it might be expected that neoliberals would seek to explain normative change in regard to Antarctica as a case where states chose to cooperate to reduce uncertainty and achieve their own economic interests. However, a neoliberal analysis would also have to explain the defection of key states like Australia and France, for ostensibly altruistic reasons, in the face of a fierce veto coalition led by...
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