South Africa: Implementing the Protocol on Environmental Protection
South Africa was among the twelve original parties to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty.1 As a non-claimant, yet geographically proximate state to the Antarctic, successive political leaders have argued passionately that the Republic has an interest in shaping the future politics of the polar continent. During the apartheid era, the meetings within the fora of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) and related bodies such as the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) provided a relatively benign forum for South Africa’s participation in segments of international politics. Since the mid-1980s, however, this position started to be questioned by some Third World countries, following up the initiative by Malaysia in the UN General Assembly, which resulted in a debate not only about the future status of the ATS but also whether South Africa should remain a member, given its record of human rights abuses and racist governance.2In May 1993, one publication from the then Department of Environment Affairs (DEA) acknowledged the following:
During a time when South Africa found many doors closed in the international political arena, the Antarctic Treaty Council Meetings [sic] remained open. Excellent international relations were established, and South Africa found support from Treaty member countries.3
KeywordsSouthern Ocean African National Congress Prince Edward Island South African Journal South African Government
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