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State responsibility for the global ecosystem : the case of the polar regions

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Green, JA (1995) State responsibility for the global ecosystem : the case of the polar regions. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

A new sense of state responsibility for the global ecosystem has emerged over the last three decades. It embraces doctrines such as sustainable development, the 'polluter-pays' principle, the precautionary principle, intergenerational equity and the common heritage of mankind. When coupled with international security and economic considerations, the development of these concepts heralds the emergence of a new international environmental order and its attendant circle of interdependence which binds all states.
The emergence of shared concerns about humanity's impact on the global environment has its roots in a series of environmental crises which have served to confirm the planet's vulnerability and underscored the need for joint responsibility towards the global ecosystem. However, the acceptance by states of this responsibility has not been pervasive as inter-state cooperation from within the traditional framework of sovereign independence has always been problematic. But this study argues that endorsing the reality of our common ecological bonds means that state political boundaries are becoming increasingly insignificant as multilateral environmental policies and laws are pursued. This should not be interpreted as an abrogation of the rights of sovereign states, per se. Rather, it should confirm the transboundary character of environmental issues and the need for rethinking the traditional doctrines of sovereignty to emphasise cooperative approaches to dealing with environmental issues.
One area where this has been successfully attempted is the Antarctic, which is now the subject of one of the most comprehensive environmental regimes ever established. The counterfactual region is the Arctic, where the eight sovereign states have made
only little progress towards sharing responsibilities for the ecosystem. Case studies of these two regions illustrate that in the Antarctic, the existence of a legal regime which redefines traditional notions of sovereignty has been instrumental in facilitating a substantial environmental management regime. By contrast, the absence of any re-development of the concept of sovereignty in the Arctic has impeded the progress of a comprehensive pan-Arctic regime for environmental management. However, in recent times there have been positive indications of a willingness by the Arctic states to redefine their traditional sovereign approach to common environmental issues, albeit in cautious terms.
There are obvious fundamental differences between the Arctic and the Antarctic. In any case, given the peculiarities of Antarctica one must necessarily be cautious in using it as a basis for general assumptions and policies for ecosystem management in other areas. This notwithstanding, developments in the Antarctic and the growing trend of internationalization of environmental issues in other regions call for transboundary approaches similar to the Antarctic experience. The Arctic would seem to be adopting this approach. Furthermore, this study argues that the new international environmental order requires such an approach to global ecosystem management.
The work is divided into five chapters which describe the genesis and nature of responsibility for the global ecosystem; the geographic and geopolitical architecture of the polar regions; the Antarctic as a mature regime; the progression towards an Arctic eco-management regime; and concludes with a comparative analysis and lessons of experience from the polar case studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Antarctic Treaty (1959), Ecosystem management, Ecosystem management, Geopolitics, Geopolitics
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1995 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1996. Includes bibliographical references

Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2014 01:12
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2016 00:57
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