Environmental protection in the Antarctic and the Arctic: The role of international law

Kees Bastmeijer, Rachael Johnstone

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review


This chapter examines international systems and instruments that protect the environments of the Polar Regions, with particular attention to the Antarctic Treaty System and the Arctic Council. While recognizing the differences between both regions in terms of geography, population, history, sovereignty, natural resource activities and decision-making frameworks, the chapter considers the principles of cooperation, prevention, precaution and sustainable use. It also evaluates the role of environmental impact assessments, area and species protection, legal responses to climate change and (for the Arctic only) the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty creates legally-binding obligations on Antarctic actors with some of the strongest provisions anywhere in the World. However, the states involved in the system clearly experience difficulties in agreeing on pro-active responses to new environmental challenges. Meanwhile, in the Arctic, state sovereignty is the starting point but sovereignty is contested within states by Indigenous Peoples and there is increasing cooperation on environmental matters through the Arctic Council, primarily through non-binding initiatives. There is strong commitment to environmental protection at both Poles but the regimes are vulnerable to institutional weaknesses just as the Polar environments are vulnerable to global changes.
Originele taal-2English
TitelResearch Handbook on International Environmental Law
RedacteurenPanos Merkouris, Malgosia Fitzmaurice, Marcel Brus
Plaats van productieCheltenham
UitgeverijEdward Elgar Publishing
Aantal pagina's39
ISBN van elektronische versie9781786439710
ISBN van geprinte versie9781786439703
StatusPublished - 12-nov.-2021
Extern gepubliceerdJa

Publicatie series

NaamResearch Handbooks in International Law

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