Antarctic Treaty System: achievements and prospects

Dr Trevor Daya-winterbottom1

1University Of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

The Antarctic Treaty 1959 will have been in place for 60 years in 2019 and is regarded by informed commentators as one of the most successful multi-party international treaty systems. This paper provides an opportunity to look back and take stock of previous success – and more importantly, an opportunity to assess the future prospects for the treaty system.


New Zealand has played a key role in the Antarctic Treaty system and has had a long involvement with Antarctica since claiming sovereignty over the Ross Dependency in 1923. This paper will therefore focus on the effectiveness of the Antarctic Treaty system through a New Zealand lens.


In particular, this paper will explore the dynamic ability of the Treaty system to influence debate and public policy regarding the Antarctic future, and public international law and environmental law more generally in an era dominated by climate justice, national populism, and questions about the continued relevance of sustainability.


Dr Trevor Daya-Winterbottom FRSA FRGS is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Waikato, where he is also the Director of the Waikato Public Law and Policy Research Unit. His teaching, research, and consultancy focus on administrative law and trans-national environmental law.

Internationally he is the New Zealand member of the ILA Committee on Sustainable Resource Management and a Governing Board member of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.

Before joining the Faculty of Law he held a variety of positions in policy analysis, the Government Legal Network, and as a lawyer in private practice.

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