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The Polar Regions and the Development of International Law: Contemporary Reflections and Twenty-First Century Challenges

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AbstractThe polar regions are increasingly coming to the forefront of global affairs in ways that are beginning to approach the prominence given to the polar regions during the ‘heroic era’ of exploration at the beginning of the twentieth century. This contemporary focus is, however, very much upon governance and the capacity of the existing and future legal frameworks to govern the Antarctic and Arctic effectively. This article revisits foundational research undertaken in 1992–1993 and reassesses the impact of the polar regions upon the development of international law. Particular attention is given to environmental management, living and nonliving resource management, the regulation and management of maritime areas, and governance mechanisms and frameworks. The article seeks to critically assess whether the existing legal frameworks that operate in Antarctica and the Arctic are capable of dealing with their increasing globalisation, or whether there will be a need for new legal and governance regimes to be developed to address twenty-first century challenges.

Affiliations: 1: ANU College of Law, Australian National


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