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Towards Crafting Sustainable Commons, Third World, and the Antarctica Model

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Sinha, Prabhas
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1460
Sector: Global Commons
Region: Antarctica
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources--international
conservation
property rights
international relations
colonization
science--policy
research--policy
Abstract: "Much of the current thinking about Antarctic is being dominated its possible restrictive utilization, exclusive domination, and escapism of the frontier mentality. The 1959 Antarctic Treaty's silence over the issue of economic utilization of Antarctic resources has opened doors for 'loophole opportunism.' With a 50 year conditional ban on mining and a partial one on hunting of marine life--including only certain species, it is easier for countries to use science to exploit them for commercial purposes. The validity of 1996 International Whaling Commission's action in adopting a Southern ocean sanctuary, which forbids the commercial harvest of whales in that area regardless of their conservation status, is also being questioned. Intensive tourism, sinking of ships, and dismantling of scientific stations are only a few of many other serious problems. Nations of the world, both party and non-party to the ATS, are busy in identifying their short-term and long-term interests. To gain overall legitimacy for their actions they apply the interactionist and approaches both at overt and covert levels. What is also worrying is the growing demand among the world community for the division of the 27.3 sq. kms of the circumpolar ocean surrounding Antarctica. Sciences in Antarctica is no more immune to profit motives. The demand within the ATS is to devise ways in which the interested countries could act as a unitary rational factor in the systematic evolution of Antarctic resource development policy. The Third World has pleases for a drastic modification of Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties (ATCPs) practice of transforming their roles from scientific research to resource management. So, the fact remains that whether it is Third World aspirations or the developed world's ambitions, scientific colonisation in Antarctica is metamorphosing into a new kind of neocolonialism. The issues and problems associated with Antarctic politics are neither simplistic nor character or facile in resolution. The gradual unbundling or rights as alternative to the all or nothing concept, requires fresh consideration. External accommodation in a meaningful manner preconditions the development of an alternative strategy capable of addressing the legitimate Third World concerns. "Problems like global warming, ozone depletion, ground water pollution, acid rain, environmental and natural resource degradation, and biodiversity depletion have made the debate crucial w.r.t. natural resource conservation and about international cooperation for regulation of an entire continent, as vital as Antarctica. Nations like Norway, Japan and Korea have called for permission to continue whaling on the pretext that they are surplus in the Southern Ocean. "The role of the UN about continuity or change in the 30 years old ATS has come under close scrutiny. The Australian/French initiative for 'Antarctic Wilderness' is gaining support but consensus is still eluding. While one side is keen to get going with mineral resource development, the other is all out for a complete moratorium. Financial obligation for participation in any mineral activity remains discriminatory. Operative elements still remains discriminatory and reinforce disparity in action. Consensus-building on the issue of Antarctic Mineral Resource Regime needs to be more widespread and acceptable so as to prevent historical episodes being tried as basis for consolidating territorial claims. At the same time there is a need to avoid 'the tragedy of commons' in several forms and functionalities. External and internal accomodation maybe a welcome option, augmented by some speculative legal and political prognostications. India, because of its position in the Third World and due to its increasing scientific research since 1981 should help in forming a forum with other developing countries to convert the continent into a 'world park.' It seems that this position has been gradually lost by India to Malaysia which has taken the lead in caller for either drastic modificaiton or even annulment of the ATS. The other option the Third World has to press for greater non-governmental organisation (NGO) mediaiton in converting Antarctica into a 'global wilderness.' The call also stresses having detailed measures to define and protect the continent's habitat and ensure that all develpments are subject to environmental impact assessment (E/A) clearance. Ecologically, critical areas in Antarctica may be declared as historic sites where any future economic exploitation could be totally banned unconditionally in foreseeable future. "National moral stakes, in general, conflict with governmental priorities. So is national necessity, with international challenges and responsibilities. International conflicts would be significantly reduced if involved countries agreed for a complete preservation. However, participation of countries with vague aims has led to their adherence to divisive views. Polarization of views prevails regarding the validity of ATS itself, its functional exclusivity, and international acceptability. India's suggestion about the option of continuation by evolution needs global rational consideration, particularly by Antarctic Treaty Consultative parties."

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