Polar Record


The United Nations and Antarctica, 2002: ‘constructive engagement’ between the Antarctic Treaty System and the United Nations

Peter J. Beck a1
a1 Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2EE


At the close of 2002, the United Nations (UN), acting in accordance with its 1999 resolution A54/45, returned to the ‘Question of Antarctica,’ which is currently being placed upon the agenda of the General Assembly's First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) every three years. In 2002, the First Committee's discussions, informed yet again by a report produced by the UN Secretary-General (UNSG) updating members about recent Antarctic developments, reaffirmed the varying perspectives existing within the international community about the management of Antarctica. Following statements delivered by the Polish delegate on behalf of the Antarctic Treaty Parties (ATPs) and the Malaysian representative, the First Committee adopted another consensus draft resolution. Subsequently, the UN General Assembly, acting by consensus without a vote, formally adopted the First Committee's draft as resolution A57/51, which basically updated the wording of that adopted in 1999. Thus, the UNSG was instructed to produce another report to guide the next UN session on the ‘Question of Antarctica’ scheduled for 2005. Although the UN discussions on the topic in 2002 proved relatively brief and low key, the actions of Malaysia during the past year or so have raised a number of questions about the future course of the ‘Question of Antarctica,’ given its lead role in first raising the topic at the UN in 1983 and then maintaining pressure upon the Antarctic Treaty System.

(Received March 2003)