Challenges to Substantive Demilitarisation in the Antarctic Treaty Area

Alan D. Hemmings

From inception, there has been a gap between the rhetoric around Antarctic ‘demilitarisation’ and its contingent and spatially limited expression in the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. Subsequent development of the Antarctic Treaty System has not changed this. Indeed, the gap broadened with the arrival of new military doctrines and technologies; erosion of separation between civilian and military personnel, equipment and functions in ‘defence’ operations; and emergence of dual-purpose technologies. The gap is again broadening given ‘Western’ and Chinese competition over Antarctica. This paper explores the contemporary state of demilitarisation and poses the question whether further development is now necessary, and if so whether it is geopolitically possible.

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