There are not only questions built around Antarctica’s ice. Disciplines like biology, history or social science conduct research about other issues in Antarctica. And I am very lucky to know the right people to ask these questions… so here is the first guest blog post by Dr. Daniela Liggett.
1) “What is the current action being done to protect Antarctica ?”
The Antarctic Treaty System, with the 1959 Antarctic Treaty (the world’s first anti-nuclear agreement that set aside 10% of the earth’s surface area to peaceful activities and scientific cooperation) at its heart, is the current governance regime for the Antarctic. For the states that have signed the relevant agreements (currently, 63 of them, with 29 states having decision-making powers), it regulates all human activity in the Antarctic and includes a number of instruments on environmental protection.
2) “To whom belongs Antarctica ?”
Antarctica is a global commons (like outer space and the deep sea bed) that belongs to all of humankind. Seven states hold historic territorial claims to parts of the Antarctic that pre-date the Antarctic Treaty, but the Antarctic Treaty essentially puts these claims on hold, meaning that the claimant states cannot act on them.
3) “Who takes the most important decisions ? Is there a president of
the United States of Antarctica ?”
All decisions concerning top-level Antarctic governance are taken by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties, ie those states with decision-making powers. They have to be consensus decisions, ie if only one state votes “no” on something, it doesn’t pass. There is no president, and there are no “United States of Antarctica”. There is, however, an Antarctic Treaty Executive Secretary, currently Albert Lluberas from Uruguay, who heads the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Essentially, the secretariat is the administrative engine behind Antarctic politics.