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By Lorraine M. Elliott (auth.)

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It is axiomatic that states, and 'official' policy-makers as agents of the state, are not the only participants in regimes or international relations especially in international environmental politics. Any analysis of cooperation or attempt to understand international environmental relations which assumes otherwise is going to be limited, and this insight is crucial to understanding the recent politics of the Antarctic regime. Nevertheless, regime theory has not paid a great deal of attention to non-state actors, although that oversight is now being addressed specifically within the context of exploring environmental issues.

International lawyers were concerned with its legal weaknesses, including the ambiguities of article IV and its failure to solve the sovereignty question, and the absence of sanctions, formal compliance mechanisms and any organisational structure. The Treaty was a political agreement among the parties to solve problems of the past, rather than a blueprint for future action. It provided only a basic framework for the development of a regime. Indeed, some of the parties were insistent that the Treaty should not 'institute regimes or create structures ...

A second proposal that the Antarctic be established as a United Nations Trust Territory was also not well received. Discussions stalled in the early 1950s. This faltering of interest cannot be described as a failure to establish a regime. Discussions in the late 1940s were little more than an informal exchange of views. There was no imperative for cooperation. The scope and nature of an Antarctic problem was not clearly defined. The claimants perceived no urgent need for an agreement, in terms either of benefits to be gained or losses to be minimised.

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