Antarctica is the fifth largest continent, and the only one where people work together for “peace and science.” The Antarctic Treaty (AT) established in 1959, and its related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), are the cornerstone for governance over the entire continent and the surrounding Southern Ocean. The ATS currently has the signatures of 54 countries. However, only 29 countries, including, Russia and China, are members of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties (ATCPs) and have voting rights. Currently, Antarctica has 75 permanent research stations, with China now building its fifth, the U.S. has four, and Russia has seven.
The ATS is facing challenges in the 21st century from climate change resulting in ice loss, increased tourism, overutilization of marine resources, and perhaps in the future, mining of the natural resources. In 2048, the AT becomes modifiable. Any of the ATCPs can request a review, and by consensus they could reject, for example, anti-mining regulation.
On the other end of the globe is the Arctic region, where in 1996 the eight Arctic nations created the Arctic Council. This forum has focused on such issues as environmental protection, indigenous rights, search and rescue, oil pollution, and scientific cooperation. The Arctic Council avoids military matters. Meanwhile, a great power competition among the U.S, Russia, and China is underway in the Arctic. A decisive tool to having a presence in the Arctic is icebreaker ships. Russia leads with over 40, China has one with others planned, and the U.S. has one operational 1976 built-ship with another expected in 2024.
The Arctic because of climate change is accessible to more nations for commercial activity during more days than ever. Russia has been boosting its military presence in the Arctic region, and Putin has cited estimates that the value of undiscovered oil and gas may be as much as $30 trillion. China has plans to develop a “Polar Silk Road” and has defined itself as a “near-Arctic state” with intentions to play a role in the region’s governance. The U.S. Air Force has implemented a new Arctic Strategy to protect American strategic interests and maintain stability in the region.
Our speaker for the December webinar is eminently qualified to discuss the issues related to the polar regions. Ray Arnaudo is a retired State Department official with over forty years of experience in international environmental and science policy affairs, where he focused on the polar regions. He is currently a member of the National Science Foundation’s Polar Affairs Advisory Committee.
Prior to retiring from the State Department in 2014, he served on Secretary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff. Before that, he was the Head of the U.S. Antarctic Treaty Secretariat. He previously directed the Office of Oceans and Polar Affairs at the State Department. He also served as the State Department’s lead Arctic and Antarctic negotiator in the 1980s/90s.
Arnaudo received his B.A. degree from Stanford University and his M.A. from the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
**We urge all 2020-21 CCFR members to register your attendance for this Zoom meeting on the CCFR website by 12 noon on December 8. Registered attendees will receive a reminder email with a link and instructions to join the Zoom meeting. If you do not receive the reminder email by the end of the day on December 8, email: email@example.com or call Molly Fulton at 434-760-2937.
Save the Date: January 14, 2021 TBA