The Future History of the Antarctic Treaty
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
Since 1959 the Antarctic Treaty System has come to be regarded as a model of coordinated scientific effort marked by a spirit of international cooperation unparalleled in the political world. As Hillary Clinton observed at the opening of the Antarctic Consultative Meeting in Baltimore in April 2009, “The Antarctic Treaty stands as an example of how agreements for one age can serve the world in another, and how when nations can work together at their best the benefits are felt not only by their own people but by all people and by succeeding generations… the treaty is a blueprint for the kind of international cooperation that will be needed more and more to address the challenges of the 21st century, and it is an example of smart power at its best”.(1) However, at 50 years of age the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) is showing signs of stress and its days as a viable system appear fraught with challenges from new players on the international scene and imperilled by increasing demands on ever-decreasing global resources. At 50 the ATS is operating in a global climate that is vastly removed from the context in which it was born as a pragmatic answer to the problems of that time. That the ATS failed to address the issues of the time, rather shelving them in the expectation of buying time and the hope that they would work themselves out, is at the heart of its dilemma. The problems then, as now, are the question of ownership of land (sovereignty) and the question of exploitation of the land (resources).