Environmental liability in Antarctica and its regulation under International Law outside Antarctic Treaty System

Ms Carolina Flores1, Dr  Luis Valentin Ferrada

1University Of Chile Law School, Santiago, Chile

As the effects of Climate Change and deterioration of the environment are more visible day after day, Antarctic’s environmental value and the role that it will play in the future, becomes a more relevant topic. Article 3 of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol) stablished the protection of the Antarctic environment as a fundamental Principle in the Antarctic Treaty System. For achieving that, the Madrid Protocol regulates the prevention of environmental harm, throughout Environmental Impact Assessment. However, a complete and systematic environmental regime must not only take into consideration the prevention of environmental harm, but also regulate the consequences of it.

Efforts on that direction have been made through the adoption of the Annex VI of the Madrid Protocol on 2005. Nevertheless, it has not yet entered into force and its functionality as an environmental liability regime has been questioned.

This presentation will analyze the International Treaties that may apply to Antarctica for regulating environmental liability, in order to conclude if there might be an international framework that could be applicable to these situations, as long as its elements and consequences are not satisfactory regulated by the Antarctic Treaty System.



Carolina Flores is a Lawyer from University of Chile Law School, with a Postgraduate Diploma in International Studies (University of Chile). Her undergraduate thesis addressed the topic of Environmental Liability in Antarctica, and it was developed under the supervision of Professor Dr. Luis Valentín Ferrada. Since her graduation, she has been involved on Antarctic law research, participating in conferences and seminars. She currently works as Assistant of the International Affairs Office at University of Chile Law School, she assists the Department of International Law at the same institution and she is a young researcher on International Law and Antarctic Law.

Unauthorised Activities in the Area of the Antarctic Treaty

Mr Gustavo Ramírez Buchheister1

1University Of Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile, 2Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany

In 2014, France issued the first judicial decision condemning actions that caused environmental damage in the area of the Antarctic Treaty. Part of the Court’s argument was a transgression of the domestic law regarding the authorisation to access the area and develop activities. Is this case unique or are there others that have or should have been condemned? If indeed there are others, what do they have in common? What difficulties can be identified in order to better prevent the occurrence of unauthorised activities in the area of the Antarctic Treaty in the future? Is there something that can be done, both at the level of international and domestic law? This presentation aims at answering these questions.


Gustavo Ramírez Buchheister holds a degree in Law from Universidad de los Andes (Santiago de Chile) and has worked as a researcher and lecturer of Legal History, Constitutional Law and Public International Law at Universidad de Magallanes (Punta Arenas, Chile), where he also studied a Master of Education. He is currently writing his Master thesis and is an LL.M. student at Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany, where he intends to begin his doctoral studies in the near future.

Towards a Role for the International Seabed Authority within the Antarctic Treaty Area ?

Mr Nicolas Kempf1

1Université De Montréal, Montréal, Canada

The potential duality of legal regimes applicable to the seabed within the ATS’ scope has been underlined since CRAMRA’s negotiations, and again while the Environmental Protocol and the Agreement relating to the implementation of UNCLOS were negotiated. It became a reality when the Protocol entered into force, in 1998. Consistently with principles applied within the ATS, the Protocol article 7’s prohibition on activity relating to mineral resources currently applies. Nevertheless, Claimants’ actions regarding Antarctica’s continental shelf, together with the possible lift of the moratorium after 2048, cast a shadow as to Antarctica seabed’s future legal regime. Building on the current evolution of the regime of the seabed beyond the limits of state jurisdiction under the International Seabed Authority’s impetus, the author offers to demonstrate that a confrontation between both regimes no longer exists, and that those regimes, driven by environmental conservation principles, rather articulate and complement each other. Realizing that this alternative vision to the main discourse, which often advocates increasing pressures on the ATS due, among other things, to the dwindling of natural resources, may seem idealistic, even utopian, the author will back up his hypothesis using examples drawn from recent practice in the marine environment.


Nicolas Kempf is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Law of the Université de Montréal, QC, Canada, under the supervision of Pr. Suzanne Lalonde. He focuses, as part of his doctoral research, on the interaction of the law of the sea, polar law, and international environmental law. He had the opportunity to present his research at various events, among which the Polar 2018 conference as well as the Human Sea 2018 conference. Nicolas is also a research fellow at the Center for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, Ontario.


A/Prof. David Leary1

1Faculty Of Law, University Of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia

It’s isolation and extreme climate means Antarctica is one of the world’s richest regions for untouched geoheritage. Sites of global importance in relation to geodiversity include, inter alia, outcrops containing rare or unique minerals such as rare boron deposits in the Larsemann Hills; areas of blue ice containing meteorites such as the Frontier Mountain blue ice field; areas of prime scientific significance such as ice-free areas or blue ice moraines significant for cosmogenic dating; and areas containing rare or unique fossils such as a Miocene penguin fossil site, Fisher Massif, Prince Charles Mountains (SCAR 2016). Antarctica is also host to a range of ‘geo-cultural’ sites of significance in terms of the history of geosciences (SCAR 2016). This paper considers emerging debates in the Antarctic Treaty System on the need for further protection of Antarctica’s geoheritage. After outlining the case for enhanced protection of Antarctica’s unique geoheritage the paper then goes on to provide a tentative gap analysis of the extent to which it is or can be protected under international law. It is argued the Antarctic Treaty system could in part draw on the experience of other international initiatives including the frameworks associated with the UNESCO Global Geoparks movement.


Dr David Leary is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). He has published widely in areas relating to polar regions on topics as diverse as bioprospecting in the Arctic and Antarctica, the Polar Code, the use of drones in Antarctica and whaling. David chaired the first Polar Law Symposium held in Akureyri, Iceland in 2008. He teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Public International Law, Law of the Sea, International Environmental Law and Private International Law at UTS.

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