Antarctic mineral exploitation
The Emerging Legal Framework
By Francisco Orrego Vicuna
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 1988
Online Publication Date:November 2009
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511565632.005
The maritime extension of the Antarctic Treaty system
The national positions that have been explained have a determining influence on the approach of each country or group of countries to the problems related to the application of the law of the sea in Antarctica. The central question that has arisen in this regard is whether the subjection of maritime zones to national jurisdiction is a concept that can be made applicable to the situation of the Antarctic. Given the close links between the concepts of the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf and the territory of a coastal State from which these concepts derive, the territorial status of the continent is the starting point for developing a reply to this question.
The complexity of the problem is due not only to the different positions that have been adopted by the Treaty parties with regard to this territorial status but also to the fact that a process of rapid development in the international law of the sea itself was initiated simultaneously with the development of the Antarctic system. It may reasonably be stated that, at the time when the Antarctic Treaty was signed, the continental shelf doctrine was already established in customary international law in addition to the jurisdictional concepts governing traditional maritime areas such as the territorial sea and the high seas.