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Antarctica: 60 degrees of separation?

Antarctica: 60 degrees of separation?

By Benjamin Hofmann


The future of the last great wilderness may depend on the ongoing strength of the Antarctic Treaty System. Antarctica is a land mass without any Indigenous population. It is often referred to as the last wilderness – a concept that, under the common heritage of mankind principle of international law, places the continent in the same category as the deep seabed and outer space. The preservation of the ice-continent owes its thanks to the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) that has provided more than 50 years of regulation. Currently, there is a distinct separation between the actions of states generally compared with their actions in Antarctica. With the increasing capability and desire of states to explore for resources, this landscape is likely to change in the years to come. Their right to exploit these resources, however, depends on the outcome of an almost certain review of the framework in 2048. It is at that time when Antarctica may become a free-for-all, as states fight to claim what is very valuable territory.

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