Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Since 1961, exploration of Antarctica has been governed by the 1959 Antarctica Treaty. The treaty suspended territorial claims to the region for thirty years, declared the area a demilitarized and nuclear-free zone, and encouraged scientific cooperation among its parties. There is now evidence that the region contains valuable minerals, petroleum and natural gas. The treaty will soon expire and there are many parties interested in developing the possible wealth of the region. Unresolved issues of sovereignty and resource development must now be resolved. This Note discusses possible approaches to the problem of ownership, including the two major theories of "exclusive sovereignty" and "common heritage of mankind." The Note also analyzes the problem of mineral resource allocation. The author concludes that a compromise between the two major theories is necessary. The current treaty provides a satisfactory framework for resolving the problems of resource ownership and control for the benefit of the international community.