Hawke’s Antarctic Legacy: The Madrid Protocol

Professor Donald R. Rothwell1

1ANU College of Law, Australian National University

In May 1989 Australia and France announced they would not sign the recently concluded 1988 Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (CRAMRA) and would instead promote an alternate Antarctic regime based on the prohibition of mining and environmental protection. The Australian-French initiative ultimately resulted in the adoption in 1991 of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol) which changed the course of Antarctic environmental protection, management and governance. Australia’s 1989 policy change was actively promoted by then Prime Minister Bob Hawke (1983-1991), and following his death on 16 May 2019 there have been reflections on the role Hawke played in abandoning CRAMRA, halting mining in Antarctica, and promoting the Madrid Protocol. This paper reviews the events of 1989, the impact of the Protocol upon Antarctic governance, and the ongoing significance of the Protocol in 2019, 30 years after the Australian-French initiative.

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