Strategic competition and emerging security risks: will Antarctica remain demilitarised?



Publication Details

S. Bateman, 'Strategic competition and emerging security risks: will Antarctica remain demilitarised?' in A. D. Hemmings, D. R. Rothwall & K. N. Scott(ed), Antarctic Security in the Twenty-First Century: Legal and Policy Perspectives (2012) 116-134.


The objective of demilitarising Antarctica and its adjacent waters is achieved by the Antarctic Treaty primarily through the prohibition of 'measures of a military nature' and the reservation of the region for peaceful purposes only.2 These principles may be threatened in the future by: strategic competition within a multipolar world, particularly between China and India as the rising powers of Asia; increased problems with defining 'measures of a military nature'; and the greater use of bases in Antarctica for scientific research that has utility for military purposes, including possibly for the command and control of offensive weapon systems. The wider use of both coastguards for law enforcement in Antarctic waters and private security contractors for a range of military tasks also broadens the scope of what constitutes 'measures of a military nature' as proscribed by the Treaty. As a consequence of these developments, it will become increasingly difficult to ensure that Antarctica remains demilitarised, particularly if 'measures of a military nature' are defined broadly.

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