Discussions about the Global Commons often veer towards a consideration of great power engagement and commercial activities in the Arctic Circle – made possible by the effects of climate change. However, these developments are equally pertinent for the Antarctic Circle, the subject of a new SAIIA research report.
It is ironic that the Antarctic Treaty, one of the most effective global governance regimes of the post-World War II period, has received very little attention over the years. Driven by Cold War pressures and a failure to regulate multiple and overlapping land claims in Antarctica, the US initiated a process that led to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty (the Treaty). Of the 50 Treaty members, 29 (including South Africa) are 'consultative parties' with voting rights. The Treaty provides for inspections and stipulates, inter alia, that Antarctica should remain a zone of peace and scientific enquiry, setting to the one side existing territorial claims. Furthermore, under the Madrid Protocol (which came into force in 1998), mineral exploration is prohibited until at least 2048.
Report by SAIIA