Framing the Concept of the Territorial Status of Antarctica under the Antarctic Treaty

Dr Indi Hodgson-Johnston1

1Integrated Marine Observing System, Battery Point, Australia

The territorial status of Antarctica under the Antarctic Treaty is often described as ‘frozen’ or ‘suspended’. This research seeks to contribute a framework of analysis and discourse for the present, and potentially enduring, status of territory in Antarctica. It will discuss the mechanisms of art IV of the Antarctic Treaty, and how this disaggregates the two core elements of territorial sovereignty: the imperium and the dominium. This framework is constructed and examined through a comparison of the territorial aspects of the Treaty with other territorial regimes, such as Guantanamo Bay, the Mandated Territories, the United Nations Administrative regimes. The research aims to use the analogy of ‘disaggregation’ between dominium and imperium to remove some of the exceptionalism and mystery that art IV has attracted in both the academic and broader discourse.


Indi Hodgson-Johnston is currently the Assistant Director of Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System and is an adjunct academic at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC and Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. Her PhD examined the status of territorial sovereignty the Australian Antarctic Territory. Her ongoing research areas are Antarctic and oceans law and policy. Indi has worked for the Southern Ocean Maritime Patrol and Response Unit at the Australian Customs Service, has been a rapporteur for the Antarctic Treaty Consultative and CCAMLR Meetings, and has lectured on various legal and policy subjects.

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