Antarctic policy studies developed

The policy arm of the Australian Antarctic program is developing strong links with the research and tertiary teaching programs in the Australian academic community.

A prime example is the Antarctic CRC’s Law, Policy and International Relations sub-program based at the University of Tasmania. The sub-program conducts research on the management of Antarctica and the southern oceans within the fields of international law, public policy and international relations. A recent review, conducted in consultation with the AAD, identified four research themes to guide the strategic development of the sub-program:

  • operation of the Antarctic Treaty
  • protection of the Antarctic environment
  • management of Antarctic resources
  • Australia’s policy interests in Antarctica.

The research program for the next two years includes work on illegal for Patagonian toothfish and assessment of influence within the Antarctic Treaty system. These projects are being undertaken in close consultation with policy officers of the AAD and other government agencies. The partnership between the AAD and the Antarctic CRC on law and policy issues benefits academia by providing access to current policy issues — and the policy and legal practitioners gain from independent and rigorous academic input to their work.

The Law, Policy and International Relations program is guided by a reference group which includes representatives of the AAD and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Research outputs take the form of advice to Government, POLAR (Policy, Law and International Relations) Working Papers and contributions to the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Law and Policy Occasional Papers produced by the University of Tasmania Law School.

The Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies (IASOS) at the University of Tasmania has developed a strong teaching program that also draws on participants in the Australian Antarctic program. The institute offers an Honours Degree and Graduate Diploma in Antarctic Studies which involve multi-disciplinary course work and a thesis. The core teaching program, which is run as an intensive series of lectures and seminars runs over the first half of the academic year, covers the life sciences, physical science and Antarctic operations. The social sciences stream addresses the critical law and policy issues and includes comprehensive attention to the Antarctic Treaty system, international law and environmental protection issues. AAD policy staff have contributed to the teaching program over several years.

IASOS also provides Masters and PhD programs in a range of research areas, and supports international visiting scholars. Much of this work is conducted in close collaboration with science and/or policy staff of the AAD and has made significant contributions in a number of policy related areas. The AAD has also developed links with other Australian and overseas institutions studying Antarctic law and policy.