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Document Type

Article

Abstract

This article explores the current relationship Australia has to Antarctica, and provides suggestions for Australia’s future actions in the wake of emerging geopolitical complications in the Antarctic region. Australia’s foreign policy scope almost exclusively looks northwards, but this paper argues that Australia should not be complacent of its interests to the south. The formation of the Antarctic Treaty System and Australia’s role in this process is described, before the modern issues challenging this system of stability are introduced. Prominently, the geographical changes to the region caused by climate change and human interference is cited as having the potential to open Antarctica up to resource competition and militarisation between states invested in the South Pole. This, combined with the growing interest of the tourism industry in the continent, puts the political position of Antarctica as a land purely for peaceful use, and not for sovereign claim or control, under threat. It assesses how these geopolitical issues effect the continent, Australia, and the wider world, as well as presenting suggestions for how Australia should respond to these issues in their efforts to exert diplomatic influence over the South Pole, protect Antarctica’s longevity, and promote peaceful stability in the region.

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