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Alternatives to the Antarctic Treaty and Impact of Common Heritage on Environment

An unprecedented period culminated in the Antarctic Treaty of cold war-era cooperation. A coalition of scientists assembled in the UN in the mid-1950s to establish an initiative to encourage scientific collaboration. To this end, the United Nations from July 1, 1957, to December 31, 1958 name the "International Geophysical Year (IGY)". In Antarctica, scientists from 12 nations collaborated throughout the 18 month IGY. At the project's completion, everybody accepted that IGY had been effective. The impetus of that historic occurrence was accompanied in Washington in 1959 by signing a treaty on the Antarctic[1].

The framers of the Treaty of Antarctic were meant to ensure that "Antarctica will be used for friendly reasons only and not to be the scene or root of the foreign dispute." The Treaty includes the whole southern latitude of 60 ° South, today recognized as the Antarctic Treaty Area (ATA). Among other things, the Treaty bans nuclear accidents, radioactive waste dumping, and troop activities inside the ATA. (Though, it is expressly allowable to use military forces to help scientist, as well as 'for some other friendly purpose') The second most relevant aim of the Treaty is to promote ongoing foreign collaboration in scientific study. (NTI, 2019).

At the period of the IGY, 7 out of twelve initial signatories (Australia, NZ, UK, Norway, Argentina Chile, and France) already had placed claims to territory in Antarctica.; some of these demands were conflicting. Such conflicting arguments were a possible source for the very "financial dispute" that the Treaties tried to discourage. For this purpose, for the remainder of the Pact, the framers created a strategy to "freeze" certain arguments. Article IV clarifies that no current statements are repudiated by the Convention, but forbids their confirmation and the creation of novel statements. To date, neither of these 7 states have relinquished their claims and the US and Russia retain the "freedom" to lay claims. Even, nobody explicitly questioned the diplomatic standing of Antarctica[2].

Antarctica's government, which ingeniously blends the ideals of international collaboration with the actuality of state supremacy, is the nearest approximation the planet has seen to "a world order miracle." Owing to the antagonisms between the U.S. and the soviet union Republic & the clear strategic interests of other states with claims to territory in Antarctica, a weak institutional structure emerging from the 1959 base treaties has tended to demilitarize Antarctica and maintain it away from the wider currents of foreign dispute. Such findings were obtained by a coalition of Nations, the initial twelve partners of the Treaty plus a slowly growing number of acceding nations, culminating in an informal system of 39 consultative nations[3].

The Antarctic Treaty attempted to isolate the Antarctic from the new weapons that heralded the emergence of the Anthropocene, and the Antarctic Treaty Scheme (ATS) is imbued with Antarctica's romantic environmental image of a rugged forest that just requires to be left alone to be preserved[4].

The UNFCCC regulating the Antarctic Treaty Structure and climate change could be interpreted as multi-treaty systems located within a hierarchical framework of the Antarctic and Southern Oceans. The Theoretical Mechanisms of Cooperation Theory (CSC Theory) offers a basis for the study of moral changes within a dynamic system. Both also found the robustness of the system a concern over performance. This goes counter to an expectation inherent in the Paris Agreement – that when the threat of climate change becomes greater, commitment (maximizing efficiency) would grow. The possibility of prioritizing systemic robustness over efficacy is, in the end, a lack of significance for ATS[5].

Antarctica provides a structure for extraordinary governance. The extension of primary bodies of authority and territoriality required a separate level of localization from a foreign culture, establishing region-specific traditions and identities. To maintain stability it was not necessary to duplicate delimited territory with the exclusive practice of authority. This dilemma contributed to the Antarctic Treaties halting jurisdiction negotiations, and pursuing practices that could satisfy various authority understandings. Scientific studies and conservation of the atmosphere established the avenue that strengthened the Pact, enhancing its exceptional character. In the same manner, environmental conservation has established territorial organization in the Antarctic by establishing numerous protected areas[6].

The Treaty of Antarctica is at the center of a set of similar arrangements that shaped the network of the Antarctic Treaty. The further conventions include the Antarctic Treaty Arrangement on Environment Security, the Antarctic Seals Conservation Convention, and the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Management Convention. The CCAMLR & CCAS are separate arrangements, but bind the representatives to important Antarctic Treaty provisions, like Article IV, which discuss the legal position of claims to the territory[7].

The Protocol to the Antarctic Environment Conservation Treaties, agreed on October 4 1991 in Madrid and came into effect in 1998, establishes Antarctica as a 'natural sanctuary committed to research & peace,' lays out specific human requirements and prohibits all acts related to mineral resources. The Environment Policy formed the Committee for Protection of Environment (CEP) as a professional advisory board to advise & draft suggestions on the application of the Environment Protocol to the Advisory Meeting of the Antarctic Treaty (ATCM). The CEP holds yearly meetings according to the ATCM[8].

Following the effective completion of the 3rd United Nations Conference on Sea law, a range of emerging nations beyond the scope of the Antarctic Treaties have begun giving importance to Antarctica. p There were sufficiently valuable resources claimed; the parties to the Antarctic Treaty (ATCPs) started discussing a system for Antarctic minerals. They proposed extending the definition of the Common Heritage of Humanity (CHM), relevant to the international maritime area, stretching to Antarctica, in particular, it's capital. Such countries lifted the curtain while addressing the problem of Antarctica at the United Nations Conference, & rendered the resulting query a matter for international community debate: Does the CHM definition refer to Antarctica, and to what degree, if so? This topic has been one of the most important challenges confronting the ATS; certainly, this has been the subject of growing concern in the Antarctic mineral regime[9].

The Antarctic has a valuable natural, technological, historical, and inherent values that are all worth preserving in the future. However, the region is subject to growth rates and the complexity of human behaviors that affect these principles in aquatic, terrestrial, and cryosphere ecosystems. Climate change, deforestation, ecosystem loss, biodiversity disruption, and introductions of non-native animals are risks to the Antarctic ecosystem and the above principles. A series of legally binding diplomatic arrangements being part of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) over centuries, It was developed to help preserve the Antarctic ecosystem and provide a mechanism for solving the problems raised by such risks. Among such conventions are the guidelines to the Antarctic Environmental Protection Treaty and the Antarctic Agreement on the Preservation of Marine Living Resources[10].

There are other connections between Antarctica and outer space while studying the legal status of Antarctica, such as the ban on foreign operations or the continent's mining. When talking about space operations, high seas or Antarctica are essential; it is not shocking that NASA which is the US space agency has chosen to acquire this position to check equipment to be included in the future Mars project. Antarctica's climatic and geographical peculiarity has given escalation to unique issues of international law: jurisdiction, resource management population, and sovereignty. In 1959, when the Antarctic Treaty was signed and the associated agreements became commonly recognized as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), the national answer to these problems gave birth to a model of collective administration. With the advent of emerging environmental security challenges and the management and extraction of natural & biological resources, the consultation mechanisms developed by the treaties also brought about major legislative and structural changes. All these structures and inventions were defined as the Antarctic framework by contrast either against the UN or other regional law frameworks[11].

The Madrid Protocol is a component of the system for the Antarctic Treaty. It offers robust conservation of the Antarctic climate and linked reliant habitats. It was completed & opened in Madrid on October 4, 1991, for signature and came into force on 14 January 1998. In 2048 the Protocol will be subject to scrutiny. Protocol’s Article 2 notes the Parties are committed to the thorough conservation of the climate of Antarctic & its based & relevant habitats and herewith declare a natural reserve to Antarctica dedicated to science and peace.' The Article 3 states values of environment, including the requirement That 'Activities under the Antarctic Treaties shall be scheduled and carried out in order to give preference to scientific exploration and to maintain the importance of the Antarctic as a place for conducting science, such as exploration necessary to understand the global climate'[12].

It is important to remember that the Madrid Protocol & Antarctic Treaty System enforce space-like rules while thinking about Antarctica's legal status. The progression of the Law of the Sea that led to the implementation of the Convention of Montego Bay (1982) deeply influenced the Antarctic Treaty structure of 1959. By raising the coastal State's strength, the Montego Bay Agreement has culminated in the expansion of the rights of the advisory parties to the maritime areas contiguous to that of the southern continent to consider the roles of the arguing nations. Yet at the same period, as expressed in the Montego Bay Convention, the advent of the idea of a shared human heritage; Enabled third countries to initiate, inside the United Nations, an offensive to question the Treaty and the exclusive control of the area by consultative parties[13].

The magnitude of this offensive has revealed the limitations of the Antarctic Treaty system (and the legal status of Antarctica) with respect to the jurisdiction and nature of a common approach for regulating maritime areas around the continent. Ironically, nevertheless, this skepticism of the Treaty system has led to the reinforcing of the latter by opposing the Wellington Convention on Natural Resources and adopting a mechanism to establish very strict protocols for the mineral resource protection and banishment of operations of mining by the Consultative Parties. Hence, the Rule of the Sea was both a factor in the creation of the Antarctic Treaty system and a variable in the redefinition of the consultative parties' goals. This is all one should claim about Antarctica's legal status[14].

Article 136 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) makes the 'land' of the common seabed and its resources a 'unique inheritance of mankind.' Such legal position and theory are of paramount significance to the mining control structure in the area, and the Convention's Article 311(6) forbids any violations from it. The over-all purpose of integrating the CHM concept into the Convention was to place the region beyond the scope of national sovereignty and to enforce intergenerational and intragenerational equity on the ownership, protection, and gain of the region and its natural resources. As a consequence, the concept of allowing access and benefit-sharing agreements is widely recognized, particularly for developed nations. Though, as South Africa found out at the UNGA on December 4, 2009: 'The concept of the shared inheritance of humanity is not just about the distribution of benefits. The same is true in preservation and conservation. The theory is about unity; solidarity in protecting and maintaining a benefit that we all enjoy, and should thus secure. But also cohesion in ensuring that this value we all share is of value to us all.[15]

In the sense of sustainable growth, the CHM theory addresses a variety of possible alternatives that the Authority should explore in promoting the implementation of the CHM theory. This includes financing scientific work to improve human understanding of the deep ocean; maintaining citizen addressing the need and alternatives to deep-sea mining; assessing protection priorities and damage thresholds deemed acceptable; the environmental consequences; retaining minable areas for future generations; offsetting human climate; and maintaining compliance[16].

In light of the above, common heritage shall benefit the environment and have a positive impact on it but solely depending upon common heritage would not be an effective decision as Antarctic Treaty as well as alternative treaties of Antarctic treaty, discussed above, are playing a major role in protecting the environment of Antarctica which cannot be ignored.

Bibliography for Public International Law

Dahl, Arnfinn Jorgensen, The Antarctic Treaty System: Are There Viable Alternatives (Palgrave Macmillan UK, 1991)

Hughes, Kevin, et al. ‘Antarctic Environmental Protection: Strengthening the Links Between Science and Governance’ (2018) 83 Elsevier Journal 86

Jaeckel, Aline, Gjerde, Kristina, and Ardon, Jeff, ‘Conserving the Common Heritage of Humankind – Options for the Deep-Seabed Mining Regime (2017) 78 Elsevier Journal 150

Keyuan, Zou, ‘The Common Heritage of Mankind and The Antarctic Treaty System’ (1991) 38 Netherlands International Law Review, 173

NTI, Antarctic Treaty (2019) < >

Sampaio, Daniella Portella, ‘The Antarctic Exception: How Science and Environmental Protection Provided Alternative Authority Deployment and Territoriality in Antarctica’ (2019) 11 Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs 107

Scott, Shirley, ‘Comparing the Robustness and Effectiveness of the Antarctic Treaty System and the UNFCCC Regime’ (2019) 11 Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs 94

Space Legal Issues, The Legal Status of Antarctica (2019) < >

Stephens, Tim, ‘The Antarctic Treaty System and the Anthropocene’ (2018) 8 The Polar Journal 29

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