Cover Image

PAPERBACK
$113.25



View/Hide Left Panel
Click for next page ( 56


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 55
5. Antarctic Conflict and International Cooperation Francisco Orrego Vicuna THE EARLY TRENDS TOWARD ANTARCTIC CONFLICT Antarctica is singled out today as the paramount example of a region that has been successfully excluded from the trends toward conflict and confrontation that generally characterize the international community at large. It is often thought that the fact that Antarctica is an isolated community or the fact that it is positioned on the margin of world maritime and trade routes can explain the excep- tional condition of this region, where the preservation of peace and the maintenance of international security are some of the predominant political features. However important these facts may be, they do not fully explain the absence of conflict in this region. In this regard it might be useful to draw a comparison with the case of the Arctic, which is also a relatively isolated region of the world because of its climatic conditions and is similarly situated on the fringe of major international routes.1 Nevertheless, this situation has certainly not prevented the Arctic from being an increasingly conflict-prone region, involving not only the major powers of the world but also various other countries that are geographically related to this northern area. Although Antarctica is today an area where peace has been effectively preserved, this was not always so. Moreover, it can be argued that in the past the antarctic region was, proportionate to the degree of human activity that took place there, as conflictive as any other area and showing every sign of a progressive deterioration. Had these trends remained unchecked, the region could 55

OCR for page 55
56 well be experiencing today a confrontational situation similar to that of the Arctic, be it in terms of boundary disputes or rights of navigation and application of the law of the sea or simply in terms of military strategy and weapons development and deployment. This comparison could apply to other regions of the world as well. Before attempting to explain why none of this has happened in Antarctica, it might be appropriate to recall some of the basic conflicts that have affected the continent in the past, a situation that is only too often forgotten. The conflicts that Antarctica has experienced in the past can be grouped into four major categories or types: (1) localized disputes about claims or boundaries, (2) general disputes about claims prompting broader international action, (3) conflicts about strategic uses of the area, and (4) major rivalries between political powers at the general international level. LOCALIZED TERRITORIAL DISPUTES The first type of conflict has involved discussions about title to territory, effective occupation, and given activities related to such territories. The Anglo- Argentine-Chilean dispute over the Antarctic Peninsula and associated islands has been one such conflict, although at given points in time in the past the dispute could be seen as escalating into some of the other types mentioned.2 In this particular case the dispute referred not only to legal and historic title and rights but to every imaginable specific activity undertaken by any of the three countries as well. Such activities included expeditions, stations, personnel, stamps, and other issues, which at the time embittered the relations between these countries in a serious manner. Another kind of conflict that can generally be included In this category is that related to boundary delimitation in the Antarctic. The United Kingdom and France had a dispute about the precise limits of Adelie Land that was settled by diplomatic means.3 It is interesting to mention in this regard that at one point it was suggested that this dispute be linked to that relating to the controversy between the same countries about islands in the English Channel. Chile and Argentina had in the past

OCR for page 55
57 unsuccessful negotiations about delimitation in the Antarctic Peninsula.4 On various occasions this type of conflict has in turn been linked with conflicts or disputes that affect sub- antarctic territories. The linkage between the Anglo- Argentine dispute over the Falkland Islands and those countries' respective claims to antarctic areas has been quite clearly illustrated throughout diplomatic history.5 A similar concern emerged in relation to the controversy between Chile and Argentina over the maritime delimitation at the southern tip of the South American continent, insomuch as it was feared that any settlement in such an area might have implications for antarctic claims. A specific clause about delinking the two issues was contemplated, first, in relation to the Beagle Channel arbitration and, second, in the recent agreement on maritime delimitation between the two countries.6 Problems of maritime delimitation are also beginning to emerge in Antarctica. The sub-Antarctic French island of Kerguelen has overlapping maritime areas with the Australian islands of Heard and Macdonald.7 The continental shelf of some of these islands extends into the Antarctic Treaty area, just as the shelf of antarctic territories and islands occasionally extends northward of the treaty area. This poses difficult problems for the precise definition of the area of mineral resources regimes. Similarly, the antarctic convergence posed difficult problems for the area of application of the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, particularly in regard to the question of the sub-Antarctic French islands. Generally, this type of dispute has been handled by means of diplomatic procedures. It is to be noted, however, that direct diplomatic negotiations have not been very successful, except for the above-mentioned Anglo-French settlement of the boundary of Terre Adelie. In general, all other questions have been left pending. The judicial approach was attempted by the United Kingdom on one occasion, but it did not succeed.8 The difficult nature of territorial questions in Antarctica has indi- cated that only through complex international arrangements, such as that of the Antarctic Treaty, can the issue be satisfactorily handled without prompting more acute kinds of crises.

OCR for page 55
58 GENERALIZED TERRITORIAL DISPUTES AND INTERNATIONAL IMPLICATIONS The second type of antarctic conflict refers to disputes about claims that exceed the level of localized contro- versy and as a consequence lead to broader international action. One such example of a situation is when local conflict eventually escalates into a more profound and conflictive crisis, resulting in the threat or actual use of force. At that point, the countries involved under- take preparations or diplomatic actions of a more serious nature. The Anglo-Argentine-Chilean conflict resulted in a situation of this kind in the 1950s, when the usual diplomatic protest and other peaceful means gave way to direct confrontation. Installations were reciprocally destroyed, personnel harassment took place on both sides, human relations deteriorated, and there was resort to violence. As Bertram once wrote: "It should not pass unremarked that the first and only shots so far fired in anger in Antarctica were in 1952, when Argentines attempted to allright a British party...."9 Naval movements of a military nature were intensified as a result of this escalation, and readiness for further action was quite apparent among the parties concerned. The overall diplomatic relationship between those countries also seriously deteriorated. It was in this environment that the United Kingdom made its attempt to take the case to the International Court of Justice, with regard both to Argentina and to Chile; but it was precisely because of the general deterioration that had taken place that the initiative was aborted. Judicial proceedings require a constructive attitude of mutual trust and cooperation among the parties concerned. A different approach was then conceived to ease tensions. A tripartite naval declaration was signed in 1949 between Argentina, Chile, and the United Kingdom, undertaking as a measure of detente not to send warships south of 60S latitude in order to prevent armed engagements.l This early form of demilitarization of the continent proved successful, and it later influenced the ideas that led to the signature of the Antarctic Treaty. However, it was only the latter instrument that really changed the political environment in Antarctica, providing a framework to highlight cooperation and minimize confrontation.

OCR for page 55
59 STRATEGIC USES AND DISPUTES IN ANTARCTICA Although there has been much argument over the signifi- cance or insignificance of Antarctica in strategic terms, this discussion has been largely theoretical. The fact is that Antarctica has been used in the past for strategic purposes and the conduct of warfare, a situation that typifies the third category of antarctic dispute. In this regard, it should not be forgotten that German submarines operated in antarctic waters during World War II, inflicting heavy damage on the merchant fleets and fishing vessels of a number of countries.ll The German and Japanese interests in Antarctica during the war were enormously influential in the development of territorial claims to that continent. The Norwegian claim materialized at the moment when it was felt that a potential German claim had to be stopped.l2 Germany and Japan had been following U.S. policy toward Antarctica very closely, with particular regard to whether the United States was planning to make a claim of its own,l3 an idea that in fact was actively considered at the time. The USSR had occasionally looked into a similar alternative.14 It is also interesting to remember that the Chilean decree of 1940, which specified the limits of Chilets antarctic claim, was directly prompted by a diplomatic initiative of President Roosevelt, who was looking for additional ways to prevent a German claim or the estab- lishment of a German base in Antarctica.l5 It is not an exaggeration to conclude, therefore, that as a consequence of growing interest in the issue of the strategic uses of Antarctica, greater emphasis was placed on sovereign claims. Nor is it mere chance that the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty that freeze the ques- tion of sovereignty have been coupled with provisions on demilitarization and peaceful uses. The attainment of one objective necessarily requires the achievement of the other. MAJOR-POWER RIVALRY IN ANTARCTICA The fourth major type of conflict in Antarctica has been that arising from superpower rivalry at the general international level. The tensions and difficulties of the cold war began to express themselves in relation to Antarctica just as they became evident in the Arctic

OCR for page 55
60 region. A number of political incidents that took place between the United States and the USSR during the Inter- national Geophysical Year were early indications of how sensitive the power relationship had also become in Antarctica.16 The geographical distribution of antarctic stations by the two powers was also to some extent an expression of the interest in establishing a presence throughout the continent, a policy that was not unrelated to strategic interest or to the eventual territorial claims that such powers could ultimately decide to put forward. Both the United States and the USSR actively considered in the past the policy of making territorial claims in Antarctica, and this position has been safeguarded by the Antarctic Treaty in describing the two countries as those having "a basis of claim. n It is not difficult to foresee that if for any reason the Antarctic Treaty arrangements were to collapse, and the strategic interests of the major powers revived, a likely consequence might be that these potential territorial claims would be made effective, thereby introducing additional complications in the already complex antarctic scenario. The nuclear implications that such tensions between the superpowers could have created would have been far more dangerous than the above-mentioned forms of rivalry. m e possibility of conducting nuclear explosions in Antarctica had never been explicitly ruled out by either of the major powers, nor had the eventual disposal of nuclear wastes in the continent. While there were continued references to peaceful uses, it is well known that such-uses have been interpreted by the major powers as being compatible with the conducting of peaceful nuclear explosions. It was only through an active diplomatic effort undertaken during the negotiation of the Antarctic Treaty that such steps in the domain of nuclear policy were specifically prohibited and remain so until this day.~7 Just as the situation during World War II prompted diplomatic initiatives to forestall possible moves by the opposite side, so the cold war resulted in similar approaches related to the broader international arrange- ments sponsored by the major powers. The fact that the American sector of Antarctica was included within the geographical area covered by the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance of 1947 is one such example. To this extent, defense policies in relation to Antarctica became interlinked with treaty arrangements primarily

OCR for page 55
61 designed for other continents, thereby creating complex legal and political relations. The Antarctic Treaty came to stabilize in a meaningful way the otherwise conflictive relationship in the area between the powers mentioned. This was partly so because of the specific provisions of the treaty regulating ques- tions such as claims, peaceful uses, and prohibitions of some activities but most importantly because of the positive environment of international cooperation that was established by means of these arrangements, this being in direct contrast with the antagonisms that had prevailed before. Major powers and other countries have learned to work together in a constructive spirit, which has provided the appropriate framework for a real process of detente Here again the antarctic framework can provide a useful example for similar efforts in other areas of the world. THE ANTARCTIC TREATY: COOPERATION AS A FACTOR OF STABILI ZATION . The Antarctic Treaty has made the difference between a continent of rivalry and conflict and one of peace and cooperation. AS this is a simple legal instrument, with no elaborate provisions on institutions or on settlement of disputes, the question must be asked as to how it has made that significant difference, overcoming and diffusing potential conflicts of a very serious and threatening nature. The treaty has directly tackled the key issues under- lying such disputes by means of concise but effective provisions. The most difficult question of sovereignty, and the related policies of nonrecognition of claims, have been harmonized in the terms of Article IV of the treaty in a very pragmatic and realistic manner. No attempt has been made to try to resolve the problem by means of opting for one or another approach, since this would have proved to be no solution at all and would probably have led to a still more profound crisis. The formulation of this article safeguards all relevant rights while at the same time laying the groundwork for building an effective mechanism of international cooperation. It is on this basis that disputes about sovereignty have come to be effectively controlled. A similar result has been reached in relation to other types of disputes by means of provisions on demilitariza- tion and the prohibition of nuclear tests and nuclear

OCR for page 55
62 dumping in Antarctica. These aspects of the treaty, taken in conjaction with those mentioned above on the issue of sovereignty, have disposed of most of the potentially serious causes of tension in the area, thereby also facilitating the gradual development of cooperation. It should also be borne in mind that such approaches and results were not the products of a secluded delibera- tion among the countries concerned during the negotiation of the treaty. Since the beginning of the century, every possible idea in relation to the organization of antarctic cooperation has been put forward by authors and govern- ments, ranging from suggestions of subjecting Antarctica to a regime of national sovereignties to those proposing various forms of internationalization, not excluding forms of common property of all nations.18 From this point of view, the current debate at the U.N. and other proposals are not at all new. What finally emerged as the approach of the treaty was the outcome of detailed consideration of all the alternatives, retaining those that proved to be workable and feasible in the light of antarctic experience. Another important consideration is that the treaty approach is not a rigid one; it has proved its capacity to evolve and adapt to new circumstances ana requirements of antarctic cooperation. The various regimes dealing with the conservation and development of natural resources are paramount examples of this evolution, which, to the required extent, has also included greater institutional development. This evolution has also defused potential conflicts relating to such resources, again not by opting for one or another point of view but through pragmatic formulations that take all necessary interests into account. Sovereignty and cooperation have been integrated with the positive attitudes that have made these develop- ments possible. It is in this perspective that the consequences of undoing the working cooperation of the antarctic system need to be evaluated and considered. Should the treaty structure be affected in any significant manner, the immediate consequence would be to impede its capacity to control the underlying roots of conflict. The renewal of territorial conflicts and political power struggles and the ensuing arms race and related expenditures in the area would automatically come to the fore, bringing Antarctica in line with what is common in most other areas of the world. ThiS indeed is an entirely unac- ceptable perspective, particularly for those countries

OCR for page 55
63 that are closest geographically to the continent and for those that because of their condition as developing countries have limited resources and political influence. The Antarctic Treaty needs to be upheld as an instru- ment of peace and cooperation in the area, not excluding of course the capacity of the system to evolve in relation to new requirements and the needs of the international community. The proven effectiveness of the treaty in the light of the many conflicts affecting Antarctica in the past is a fundamental reason for its continuity. NOTES 1. See generally Sugden, D. 1982. Arctic and Antarctic. A Modern Geographical Synthesis, Basil Blackwell (Oxford), 4 7 2 pp. 2. See generally Waldock, C. H. M. 1948. Disputed sovereignty in the Falkland Islands Dependencies. BYBIL: 311-353; Pinochet de la Barra, O. 195S. Chilean Sovereignty in Antarctica, Editorial del Pacifico, S.A. (Santiago), 62 pp. Puig, J. C. 1960. La Antarctica Argentina ante el Derecho, R. Depalma (Buenos Aires), 274 pp. 3. For the diplomatic correspondence between France and the United Kingdom on the question of delimitation of Terre Adelie, see Bush, W. M. 1982. Antarctica and International Law, Oceana Publications, Inc. (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.), Vol. II, pp. 498-506. 4. Pinochet de la Barra, O. 1985. Antecedentes historicos de la politica international de la Chile en la Antarctica: Negociaciones Chileno-Argentinas de 1906, 1907 y 1908. In F. Orrego Vicuna and M. T. Infante, eds. Politica Antarctica de Chile. Beck, P. J. 1983. Britain's Antarctic Dimension. Int. Affairs 59:429-444. 6. Chile-Argentina: Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed on November 29, 1984; Article 15. 7. Bush, W. M. 1982. Antarctica and International Law, Oceana Publications, Inc. (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.) Vol. II, p. 589. International Court of Justice. 1955. Pleadings, Antarctica cases (United Kingdom v. Argentina; United Kingdom v. Chile). Bertram, C. 1957. Arctic and Antarctic: A Prospect of the Polar Regions, p. 105. 8. 9.

OCR for page 55
64 10. See Statements of the Foreign Office of January 18, 1949. In M. M. Whiteman. 1963. Digest of International Law, U.S. Department of State (Washington, D.C.), Vol. 2, p. 1238. 11. See, for example, 1952. German raiders in the Antarctic during the second world war. Polar Rec. 6:399-403. 12. Quigg, P. W. 1983. A Pole Apart: The Emerging Issue of Antarctica, New Press, A Twentieth Century Fund Report, McGraw-Hill Book Company (New York), p. 112. 13. See generally Sullivan, W., 1957-58. Antarctica in a two-power world, Foreign Affairs 36:156. 14. Toma, P. A. 1956. Soviet attitude towards the 18. acquisition of territorial sovereignty in the Antarctic, Am. J. Int. Law 50:611-626. 15. Gajardo Villaroel, E. 1977. Apuntes pare un libro sobre la historia diplomatica del Tratado Antartico y la per ticipacion chilena en su elaboration, Rev. Diffusion 10:41-74. 16. See generally Bullis, H. 1973. The political legacy of the International Geophysical Year, Subcommittee on National Security Policy and Scientific Developments, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, November. 17. Pinochet de la Barra, O. 1985. La contribution de Chile al Tratado Antartico. In F. Orr ego Vicuna and M. T. Infante, eds. Politica Antarctica de Chile . A forthcoming book on the emerging regime of Antarctic mineral resources by the author of this chapter discusses the broad range of ideas that have been proposed to organize the Antarctic regime.