Legal implications of Chinese Kunlun Station at Dome A and its ASMA/code of conduct proposals

Sakiko Hataya and Akiho Shibata

Built in 2009, Chinese Kunlun Station is China’s third research station. It is located in the Dome A region about 4,000 meters above the sea level at the hinterland of the East Antarctica plateau and situating at the middle section of the ice divide of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, near the center of East Antarctica. The station is used only during the summer and comprises some 250 square meter of living and working space. In addition, Kunlun station can accommodate up to 25 research and logistics personnel. It is assumed that projects such as astronomical research, meteorological observation, radar sounding, and ice coring are done at this station. With particular reference to astronomical research, with its extremely thin and stable atmosphere, very dry air, absence of pollution, and low background radiation is one of the best locations on Earth for astronomical observation, and in January 2012, the first of three remotely steerable 50 cm Antarctic Survey Telescopes was installed.

In terms of location and scientific activities, Japanese Dome Fuji Station shares similarities with Kunlun Station. In 1995, the Station was established for a deep ice drilling program and atmospheric observations. It is located at 1,000 km inland on the Antarctic Continent at 3,810 m above sea level. It is also one of the major domes of the Antarctic ice sheet. Like Kunlun station, the climate conditions around Dome Fuji are harsh with extreme low temperature, so it is difficult to access the area. The Japanese astronomy community identified the station as a potential candidate for the future astronomical observatory because of the suitable conditions and environment, and now Japan plans to construct an astronomical observatory, including infrared telescopes, in the New Dome Fuji Station near the Dome Fuji Station. With those similarities, Dome Fuji Station can provide a comparative model to examine some of the legal issues involved in establishing and maintaining such stations, as well as setting up potential area protection and/or environmental code of conduct surrounding such dome stations.

In 2013 at the 36th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM), China proposed the establishment of a new Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA) in Dome A area, and prepared a draft management plan that aimed to enhance a better protection of its scientific, environmental and logistical values, in order to make Kunlun Station play a key role in supporting scientific activities as an important international cooperation platform. Also, in 2017, China submitted a “Code of Conduct” as the first possible management option for Dome A as the scientific and environmental values of the Dome A area and its potential for more scientific research. However, several Members of ATCM questioned the justification of designating a new ASMA at Dome A, and some Members inquired whether the proposal made by China was aligned with the purposes of ASMAs as defined by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol).

This presentation will examine the international legal implications of establishing an ASMA and/or a code of conduct around a scientific base such as Kunlun Station by examining the ATCM debates in light of the purpose, objective and utilities of area protection systems/environmental protection schemes under the Madrid Protocol.


Sakiko Hataya is a PhD student in law, Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies (GSICS), Kobe University, Japan, and a research fellow of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Her recent publications include: Environmental Impacts of Antarctic Scientific Research Activities: Discussion on Footprint (Japan Polar Research Association, 2019) (in Japanese) and The Arctic Council, co-author with Dr. Osamu Inagaki (Hokkaido University Press, 2019) (in Japanese).

Akiho Shibata is a professor of international law and Director of Polar Cooperation Research Centre (PCRC), Kobe University, Japan. He is leading several international research projects including: The Resilience of the Antarctic Treaty System to Future Challenges (with Julia Jabour) and Policy-Law-Science-Nexus (PoLSciNex) in Antarctica Action Group under SCAR Standing Committee on Humanities and Social Sciences (SCHASS) (with Luis Valentin Ferrada).

DROMLAN and the Antarctic Treaty System

Osamu Inagaki 1, Gen Hashida 2

1 Polar Cooperation Research Centre (PCRC), Kobe University, Japan, 2 National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR), Japan


Air transportation is becoming increasingly important for efficient research and other activities in the Antarctic. The contracting parties to the Antarctic Treaty have developed several inter-continental air routes to and from Antarctica (e.g. between Christchurch, New Zealand and McMurd Airfield; between Punta Arenas, Chile and West Antarctica; “Airlink” between Hobart, Australia and Wilkins Aerodrome etc). Among them, the air routes between Cape Town and Droning Mode Land (DML) are particularly noticeable in its systematic operations through the international collaboration among 11 national Antarctic programs. This collaboration is called Droning Mode Land Air Network (DROMLAN). The purpose of this presentation is to examine the legal complexities behind the operation of DROMLAN under the Antarctic Treaty System.

DROMLAN was established during the COMNAP meeting in 2002 by 11 national Antarctic programs that have conducted research activities in DML: Belgium, Finland, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom. DROMLAN provides intercontinental flight services between Cape Town and Russian Novolazarevskaya runway (Novo Runway) and Norwegian Troll runway using Ilyushin-76 DT (IL-76) and intra-Antarctica flight services between these two runways and research stations located in DMN using Basler BT-67 and Twin Otter DHC-6. From season 2002-5 to season 2015-16, more than 150 round trip flights were made between Cape Town and Novo and Troll runway.

One of the features of DROMLAN is that different actors with different nationalities are involved in its operations. First, DROMLAN’s air operations are arranged by Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI), a South African private company based in Cape Town. Second, the aircraft used for intercontinental flights IL-76 is registered in Russia and is operated by Russian airline Volga-Dnepr and the aircrafts for intra-Antarctica flights Basler BT-67 and Twin Otter DHC-6 are registered in Canada and are operated by Canadian Airline Kenn Borek Air. Third, DROMLAN’s air services and facilities are used not only by members of national Antarctic programs (priority user) but also by private expeditions, including tourists if vacant seats are available. Services for private expeditions are provided by The Antarctic Company (TAC), a sister company of ALCI and an IAATO member.

Based on the recent discussion within the ATCM, this presentation will examine the legal complexities behind the operations of DROMLAN particularly in relation to the obligation of advanced notification under Article VII (5) of the Antarctic Treaty. Although Article VII (5) itself is a procedural obligation, this article is also referred to in several substantive provisions under the Environmental Protocol and its Annexes, including obligation of environmental impact assessment (EIA). This presentation will show that the involvement of different actors in DROMLAN makes it a legal challenge for states parties to comply with the obligations of advanced notification and EIA regarding DROMLAN’s operations.


Osamu Inagaki is researcher at Polar Cooperation Research Centre (PCRC), Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies (GSICS), Kobe University, Japan. His research interest includes treaty law and international polar law, in particular the function of the Arctic Council and the development of the ecosystem approach in the Polar Regions. His recent publication is Towards an International Legal Order for the Arctic: Science, Environment and Ocean (Toshindo, 2018) co-edited with Prof. Akiho Shibata (written in Japanese).

Gen Hashida is the Deputy Director of Center for Antarctic Programs, NIPR. He takes a role in coordination of science programs and operations as well as co-chair of the DROMLAN.

The Next Bastion in Combating IUU Fishing: The Role of Nationality Jurisdiction in CCAMLR & Beyond

Dr Arron Honniball1, Mr Valentin Schatz2

1Centre For International Law (CIL), National University Of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore, 2Faculty of Law, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing represents a threat to global fisheries sustainability and maritime security, incorporating large-scale and highly mobile environmental, economic, and social concerns. In terms of fisheries governance, the threat from illegal fishing is often not a lack of rules and standards on the international, regional, and domestic level but rather vessels avoiding compliance with relevant conservation and management measures through their choice of jurisdictions. This in turn results from implementation failures and a general lack of enforcement by flag, coastal, port and market states, and states of nationality. This presentation will focus on the role of the state of nationality, whose jurisdiction was long held by global instruments as a complimentary means of eliminating IUU fishing but has been highlighted only to a limited extent in state practice. In this respect, the presentation will focus on the practice of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and its member states as a leader in combating IUU fishing. The authors suggest the last decade has been demonstrative of at least three key developments in the contemporary use of the active nationality principle of jurisdiction to address IUU fishing.


Dr Arron N Honniball is a Research Fellow at the Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Laws from University College London, a Master of Laws in public international law at Utrecht University, and in March 2019 Arron defended his PhD at Utrecht University, entitled, ‘Extraterritorial Port State Measures: The basis and limits of unilateral port state jurisdiction to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing’. Current interests and publications primarily concern issues of jurisdiction, while future areas for exploration include, among others, autonomous vessels or the regulation of vessels’ greenhouse gas emissions.

Border Drift: Norwegian Antarctic Territorial Expansion 1939-2017

Mr Jason Thompson1

1Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia

In 1939, King Haakon VII proclaimed that the coast and sea between the British and Australian Antarctic claims will be brought under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Norway. This new territory, called Dronning Maud Land, differed from its neighbors by not conforming to the common practice of claiming an entire sector of the continent. Even to the present day, precise north and south boundaries have never been defined for Dronning Maud Land. This ambiguity led to multiple ways of cartographically interpreting the limits of the claim over the past century.


This paper will examine political maps of the Antarctic continent created by Norwegian government agencies and maps used by Norwegian media to analyze how the government & people of Norway visualized their Antarctic claim over time. Particular attention will be paid to maps in the Norwegian Polar Institute’s digital archive that best represent the Norwegian government’s view on the extent of their claim as well as maps used by the public broadcaster NRK to report Antarctic news to the citizens of Norway. The results of this study will provide a view into how the Kingdom of Norway’s own interpretation of the extent of Dronning Maud Land evolved over time.


Jason Ryan Thompson is an American Erasmus Mundus Scholar currently studying in an e-governance joint master’s program at KU Leuven in Belgium, the University of Münster in Germany, and the Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia. Previously, he graduated from the University of Tsukuba in Japan where he focused his dissertation research on the historical Antarctic acts of sovereignty of the Kingdom of Norway. He plans to continue research into polar law and the sustainability of the Antarctic Treaty System at the doctoral level following graduation in 2019.

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