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Looking beyond the International Polar Year: What are the Emerging and Re-emerging Issues in International Law and Policy in the Polar Regions?

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AbstractThe International Symposium, ‘Looking beyond the International Polar Year: Emerging and Re-emerging issues in International Law and Policy in the Polar Regions’ (the Symposium) was held on 7–10 September 2008 at the University of Akureyri, Akureryi, Iceland. The Symposium was timed to coincide with the launch of the new postgraduate program in Polar Law offered by the University of Akureyri. The purpose of the Symposium was to examine, in detail, the implications of the challenges faced by the Polar Regions for international law and policy as part of the legacy of the current International Polar Year and to make recommendations on appropriate actions by States, policy makers and other international actors to respond to these emerging and re-emerging challenges. This article summarises the key findings and recommendations of the Symposium. These address the following key issues: climate change; human rights challenges; challenges of new commercial activities in the Polar Regions (such as the exploitation of off shore oil, gas and other minerals, shipping fishing, bioprospecting and tourism); challenges posed by shipping and newly opening sea lanes; threats to specific species and assemblages of species; environmental governance in the Polar Regions; and the inadequate implementation of existing international law and domestic laws. The article also contains a series of recommendations on further legal, scientific and other studies that should be undertaken in the immediate and near term future to better equip governments and policy makers to respond to these emerging issues.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law, University of New South WalesSydneyAustraliaUnited Nations University-Institute of Advanced


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