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.

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