The strength to continue : a case study approach to examining the robustness of polar governance in the era of environmental and energy security
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 04:19 authored by Weber, M
Interest in accessing, developing and transporting offshore resources in the polar environments comprise elements of energy and environmental security. These contemporary issues place stress on the systems of polar governance, expressed in this thesis as operating systems. The capacity of each polar operating system to deal with emerging issues is determined by operating system robustness. This thesis argues that robustness of polar governance is not solely dependent on the structure of the operating system. Robustness is attained, and maintained, through the dynamic interaction between the actors and the systems' components. Robustness is defined through the combination of participant confidence and the ability to effectively avoid prejudice to states' rights. Participant confidence further relies on state authority, legitimacy and resilience. Robustness is lost if the system is pushed below an operating system threshold. Case studies linked to energy and environmental security have been used to identify characteristics of participant confidence and effectiveness. The case studies examine the debate concerning the status of the Arctic waterways, the negotiation and abandonment of the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities, and the continental shelf delimitation process undergone by the Russian Federation in the Arctic and Australia in the Antarctic. Polar offshore oil and gas activities, potential and regulation are also examined. Once compared, the capacity of the operating systems to accommodate contemporary challenges and future issues which accompany increased access to the polar environments is examined. Contemporary challenges include industry-related scientific research, shipping and the increase, or onset of, offshore oil and gas industry activities. This analysis reveals both differences and similarities between the Arctic and Antarctic operating systems. In the Arctic voluntary initiatives and recognized sovereignty reinforce the ability of state authority to drive participant confidence and regional norms. Commitment to regional accountability advances legitimacy and resilience within the system. In the Antarctic every state committed to the Antarctic Treaty System acts to ensure prejudice of states' rights does not occur. Resilience of the system is reinforced by the significant consequences for abandoning the system. Widely accepted norms of behavior within the mix of hard and soft law instruments of the Antarctic operating system contributes to its legitimacy. This thesis highlights the capacity of the polar operating systems to accommodate challenges. Each system, though different in structure, has remained above the operating system threshold. As long as there is acceptance of the operating system dynamics, sources of law and terms of engagement related to sovereign rights and regional cooperation, contemporary and emerging regulatory issues can in turn be overcome.
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