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International Law on Antarctic Mineral Resource Exploitation

Runyu Wang

This book analyzes the legal regime of the exploitation of the mineral resources in the Antarctic. Therefore, it elaborates on the development of the Antarctic Treaty and the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). The author examines the history and influence of the Convention for the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (CRAMRA), which purpose it is to prohibit unregulated mineral resource activities in Antarctica, and its provisions are extremely strict with the aim of environmental protection. Through analyzing and comparing the CRAMRA and the 1991 Environmental Protocol, the book concludes that it is not beyond credulity to imagine that a new round of discussion on Antarctic mineral exploration will be held in the near future.

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Part 5: Exploitation of Antarctic Ice

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← 228 | 229 →

Part 5:   Exploitation of Antarctic Ice

Freshwater scarcity has become threat1182 in light of anticipated rapid population growth in the foreseeable future1183 and the effects of global warming1184. More than three-quarters of all freshwater resources are locked up in ice formations, mainly in the polar regions.1185 More than 98 percent of the Antarctic continent, an area of 13,800,000 square kilometers, is covered by an ice sheet, containing an estimated water volume of 25–30 million cubic kilometers.1186 It is thus not surprising that political and commercial interests are expected to someday drive States and entrepreneurs to exploit the ice resources found in the Antarctic. However, international law lacks the necessary rules to set out the legal status of ice and the jurisdictional competence over its use.1187 With regards to Antarctic ice, some unavoidable questions have arisen again, such as the legal status of the ice, the appropriate international legal system and the appropriate international law for addressing the expected exploitation. This part of the dissertation seeks to make a modest contribution to the legal discussion by undertaking a three-fold analysis. ← 229 | 230 → Firstly, a brief assessment is made of the legal status of various forms of Antarctic ice. Secondly, an analysis is conducted which asks what legal system would govern Antarctic ice, UNCLOS or the Antarctic legal system. Thirdly, appropriate rules for the exploitation of Antarctic ice will be distilled through a further examination of the appropriate legal system.

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