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Responsive Antarctic Law-Making in the Asian Century

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One aspect of the ‘Asian Century’ has been the growing interest from Asian states in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean that surrounds the continent. There has been a significant shift in the approach by a number of Asian states to the Antarctic Treaty and the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) that has been built upon and around it. While Asian states continue to be under-represented in the ATS (there are seven Asian state parties to the Antarctic Treaty), participation has grown, and more significantly the view that the ATS is an ‘exclusive club’ dominated by developed states has given way to a more pragmatic, more cooperative and less ideological approach to Antarctic affairs. Broadening ATS membership and increasing interest from existing Asian state parties to the ATS, most notably China, prompts questions as to whether there are distinctive Asian–Antarctic issues, and if so whether the Antarctic regime can evolve to address them. Specifically, are the governance and law-making processes of the ATS, which have not changed significantly for decades, up to the task of providing an effective international system of Antarctic management in this Asian Century?


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