Security Council 1 Issue: Issue #102: Maritime and Territorial Disputes in the Antarctic Region Student Officer: EstefanĂa Sierra
Vice-President of the Security Council 1
Introduction The second issue that will be debated in the Security Council is the ongoing dispute over the Antarctic territory and the maritime perimeter surrounding it. This continent has no ruling entity, and is approximately 10 percent of the territorial surface of the Earth, which has fueled debate over which state has jurisdiction over this precious land and its surrounding waters. Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom are the seven states that have claimed rights over this land by being coastal states of Antarctica and within its maritime zones. The acquisition of this territory is of ultimate attraction for these claimant states, specifically for rights on whaling, natural resources, and for scientific exploration and discovery. The two documents that pertain to this issue are the Law of the Sea Convention and the Antarctic Treaty. The 1982 UN Law of the Sea claims coastal states can claim sovereign rights over the sea and the resources of the outer limit of the continental shelf of Antarctica within an exclusive economic zone of up to 200 nautical miles from the states' costal baselines. Contrastingly, the 1959 Antarctic Treaty states that south of 60Âş South, all claims of sovereignty are frozen; the sea and land are off limits past this point. Article IV of this treaty states "No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica". This treaty outlines and enforces that Antarctica can only be used for peaceful purposes, including scientific research and exploration, and prohibits violent and nuclear activity. It strongly promotes international scientific cooperation. This treaty doesnâ€™t invalidate territorial claims, yet these are suspended as long as the treaty stands. For this reason, most countries do not recognize territorial claims in Antarctica. The clash of these documents' claims create interesting and important issues for the Security Council in how
the management and jurisdiction of the Southern Ocean will take place, as well as the impacts it will have in the rest of the world.
Definition of Key Terms Antarctica Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent; it stretches 14 million km2 and occupies most of the South Pole region. It's the world's 5th largest continent, located in the tip of the Southern Hemisphere, south of the Antarctic Circle and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. About 98% of this continent is covered by thick ice, and its home to hundreds of research stations throughout the continent. This continent is politically neutral, holding no government, yet various countries claim sovereignty in certain regions of Antarctic land. The conflict debated will be on the claimant states' rights over maritime and territorial Antarctica and the dispute between the guidelines of the Antarctic Treaty and the UN Law of the Sea Convention. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea UNCLOS, also called the Law of the Sea treaty, is an international agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world's oceans, the guidelines for businesses, environment protection, and the management of marine natural resources. Since not all nations in the globe have signed this treaty (157 out of 193), there is an uncertainty as to what extent this convention codifies customary international law. Antarctic Treaty This treaty regulates Antarctica's international relations. In this treaty system, composed of the Antarctic Treaty and other related agreements, Antarctica is defined as all of the territory and ice caps south of 60째S latitude. This treaty was put into force in 1961 presently holds 50 signatory nations; it categorizes Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes complete freedom of scientific investigation and prohibits all kinds of military activity on the continent. Maritime zone The maritime zones recognized under international law include internal waters, the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone, the continental shelf, the
high seas and the Area. Excluding the high seas and the Area, each of these maritime zones is measured from the baseline determined in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, which states international law. Coastal State The coastal state is a state with a coastline; these states are free to set laws, regulate use, and use any resource within its maritime zones. The territorial sea The sovereignty of a coastal state stretches to an invisible boundary called the territorial sea. The territorial sea is up to 12 nautical miles in diameter. The contiguous zone: In a sector of sea adjacent to the territorial sea, the coastal state may have the power necessary to control or punish the violation of customs, fiscal, immigration and sanitary laws in its territory or territorial sea. This zone may not exceed 24 nautical miles in diameter. The exclusive economic zone: The EEZ is the area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea in which the coastal state holds certain rights and jurisdiction and all other states hold certain rights and freedoms. The coastal state has sovereign rights over all natural resources, the water and the seabed in the zone, while the rest of the states hold freedom of navigation and overflight. This zone may not exceed 200 nautical miles. The continental shelf The coastal state holds sovereign rights over the continental shelf, which goes beyond the border of the EEZ and holds the same rights recognized in this zone. The continental shelf doesn't have a complex physical definition, its limits "shall now exceed 350 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.â€?
This image shows the physical demonstration of the terms explained above, and the “potentially claimable” area that neither of the treaties address – this perimeter leaves claimant states with doubts and allows them to make claims based on this gap
General Overview The Antarctic territorial and maritime dispute is an issue of clashing treaties, and only a matter of time. Antarctica is a continent, and has no government. The United Nations Law of the Seas Convention excluded Antarctica specifically, yet the Antarctic Treaty’s Article VI states that the high seas around Antarctica apply to the UN Law of the Sea. There is a connection and a clash between these two treaties that raise interesting issues and debate in the future management of the Southern Ocean. The Antarctic Treaty The Antarctic Treaty is a diplomatic work created to balance the interests and opinions of many global actors. Claimant states of Antarctica differ greatly with other states in terms of territorial claims and sovereignty in this continent. This agreement between Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Chile, the French Republic, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America was reached to preserve Antarctica. It highlights
the following four main goals, which help to protect Antarctica: it prohibits military activity, it protects Antarctic ecosystems, it fosters scientific research, and it recognizes the need to protect Antarctica from uncontrolled destruction and interference by people. The most polemic article in this treaty is Article VI, which states: “The provisions of the present Treaty shall apply to the area south of 60º South latitude, including all ice shelves, but nothing in the present Treaty shall prejudice or in any way affect the rights, or the exercise of the rights, of any State under international law with regard to the high seas within that area.” What this article states is that all land beneath the 60º South line is not claimable. The territorial claims beneath that point are suspended as long as the Antarctic Treaty is in force and territorial sovereignty of Antarctica remains. The United Nations Law of Sea Convention The UN Law of Sea outlines the rights of all UN members in their use of the world's oceans, setting guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the managing of marine natural resources. UNCLOS was built on four 1958 law of the sea conventions and sets rules that are past national control. Part VI, dealing with the Continental Shelf, and Annex II of the convention, which established a Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, outline the existence and requisites of coastal states, creating a clash between this Convention and the Antarctic Treaty. Treaty Clashes – Claimant States One of the main issues that these treaties raise is the extent to which claimant states can declare themselves as coastal states, or if even coastal states exist in Antarctica given the Antarctic Treaty claims. The fact that Antarctic coastlines are ice-covered and subject to movement and melting also create a barrier in delimiting baselines. Even though various countries claim sovereignty over certain regions, these are not recognized universally for various reasons, the main being a politically neutralizing treaty – the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. The UNCLOS does claim the existence and requirements for coastal and claiming states, however, the United Nations don’t dictate international law, and their treaties must not be followed since there are no consequences to the breaking of these. The question of which
treaty is stronger and dictates the truth comes into the debate.
The Antarctic Treaty Ends In 2040, the Antarctic Treaty will enter review and will be open for debate on whether it will have adjustments made, or will be cancelled. The years leading up to 2040 will be filled with debate on what will be made to the treaty, if claimant states will be finally recognized, or if Antarctica’s absolute sovereignty will continue.
Major Parties Involved and Their Views Australia Claimant state of a region of the maritime and territorial Antarctic region, which was called Australian Antarctic Territory. It consists of all the islands and territory south of 60°S and between 45°E and 160°E since 1933.
Argentina Claimant state of a region of the maritime and territorial Antarctic region, which was called Argentine Antarctica. Britisha and Chilean claims overlap their claim of territory in its entirety. It is composed of a triangular section delimited by the 25º West and 74º West meridians and 60º South lines.
Chile Claimant state of a region of the maritime and territorial Antarctic region, which was called the Chilean Antarctic territory. Extends from 53º West to 90º West and to the 60º South lines, overlapping Argentine and British Antarctic claims.
France Claimant state of a region of the maritime and territorial Antarctic region, which was called the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. The territory’s exclusive economic zone is of great importance for fishing; the claim is composed of four groups of islands and one continental fraction, extending between the 43º South and 67º East lines.
New Zealand Claimant state of a region of the maritime and territorial Antarctic region, which was called
the New Zealand Antarctic Territory (Ross Dependency). Australia, France, Norway and U.K. recognize the New Zealand Antarctic claim, but it is not recognized by the United Nations, U.S., Russia, or by most other countries. The region passes along the longitudes 160º east to 150º west, ending at the 60º south line.
Norway Claimant state of a region of the maritime and territorial Antarctic region, which was called the Dependencies of Norway; three dependencies within the Antarctic and Sub Antarctic regions. The UK, France, Australia, New Zealand and Norway all recognize each other's claims – none of these claims overlap.
United Kingdom Claimant state of a region of the maritime and territorial Antarctic region, which was called the British Antarctic Territory; one of the 14 British Oversees Territories. Composed of region between 20º West and 80º West, limited by the 60º South limit by the Antarctic Treaty. Claim overlaps Argentina’s. and Chile’s. UK has ratified the Antarctic Treaty.
Territorial Claims of Antarctica, overlapping of claims is showed
Timeline of Events Date of event
Description of event
American explorer John Davis discovered this continent
December 1st, 1959 rd
Antarctic Treaty was opened for signature
June 23 , 1961
Antarctic Treaty was entered into force
10 December, 1982
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is signed and opened to ratification by any state. To come into force, the Convention requires sixty signatures and would only enter into force one year after its sixtieth signature.
16 November, 1994
The UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) enters into force one year after its sixtieth signature.
Antarctic Treaty will enter review and will be open for debate on whether it continues to be in force of will end
UN Involevement, Relevant Resoultions, Treaties and Events UN involvement has consisted purely of the UN Law of the Sea Convention. Treaties pertaining this dispute: -
UN Law of the Sea Convention Treaty (came into force November 16th, 1994) – sets rights of nations in the use of the world’s oceans by establishing guidelines for business, the environment, and the administration of marine natural resources
Antarctic Treaty System (came into force June 23rd, 1961) – ensures Antarctica will forever be used exclusively for scientific and peaceful purposes
Possible solutions to this issue pertain majorly to the force of the treaties outlining the territorial and maritime claims of the Antarctic Territory. Since these treaties can’t be modified yet, other solutions can include developing a method to formally distribute the land, having the UN intervene and allow for no territorial claims, holding bilateral talks with the foreign ministers of these countries to demarcate the Antarctic territories, among others.
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Published on Aug 17, 2013