Consultative party status and alternative governance systems in the Antarctic (2013)
Concerns about contemporary challenges have raised questions about the ability of the Antarctic Treaty System to effectively regulate and manage Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. The increased human activity on the continent, and the protection of its fragile environment from degradation and the exploitation of resources is the focus of this paper. The Antarctic Treaty System consists a complex array of bodies that aim to ensure the sustainability of Antarctica. The Antarctic Treaty’s primary aims are peace and science and it has a proud history of achievement, but it must remain fit for purpose. The difficulty of operating within its system is demonstrated through the case studies of extended continental shelf claims in Antarctica and bioprospecting. This paper argues that it is time for the Consultative Parties to address the core complexities of the Antarctic Treaty: the issue of sovereignty claims, the paradigm for governance, consensus decision making and to acknowledge the political nature of the governance regime. It is proposed that, in order to overcome these issues, a new deal is needed. This could be achieved through an assessment of the governance structure of the Antarctic Treaty System by Consultative Parties in order to make improvements and increase its effectiveness and efficiency. Regular “Meetings of Parties” at a Ministerial level, facilitated by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, would see an increase of the effectiveness of the regime, underpinned by scientific research. The collapse of the Antarctic Treaty System, without a suitable alternative, would likely see a “free for all” to its resources by selfinterested states.
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