EVENT | Antarctic Sovereignty

Antarctica is the first continent to apparently move beyond the modern doctrine of sovereign territorial states: ‘No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force’, states Article IV of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, ‘shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica.’ Observers range from praising its governing arrangements as an acceptable fudge, to seeing them as a working example of ‘sovereign neutrality’, or they are impressed by how multi-state cooperation enables more effective scientific research.

These arrangements have – thus far – produced a peaceful, valuable and accepted regime for scientific and multi-State cooperation. Yet with mounting environmental, commercial, military and commercial pressures on the continent; rapid climatic changes and an intensifying interest and investment by countries such as China and Russia, how robust are these arrangements? If the uncertainty cannot hold, what alternative forms of governance might emerge? And what implication does this have for the sometimes overlapping claims of Chile, Argentina, Britain and Australia?

A structured two-hour conversation in the Western Tower Room in the Quadrangle at Sydney University. The meeting will take place at 4pm on Tuesday June 10th between seven leading experts each with fresh perspectives on Antarctic sovereignty. The conversation will be chaired by Nick Rowley, and will include contributions from John Keane (SDN) and Tim Stephens (Sydney Law School). Also contributing will be: Julia Jabour from the University of Tasmania whose work has concentrated on the changing nature of sovereignty in the Antarctic in response to global environmental interdependence (confirmed) Alan Hemmings a specialist on Antarctic governance, geopolitics and environmental management (TBC) Tony Press currently developing the 20 Year Strategic Plan for the Federal government (TBC) Chris Turney, Professor of Climate Change at UNSW.

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