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Polar Law Textbook II

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”Developments in the Arctic and Antarctica continue to be the subject of growing public interest and academic, political, scientific, and media discourse. The global magnitude of the changes that are currently taking place in the Polar Regions, also influence legal developments. Furthermore, the growing importance of both the Arctic and the Antarctica in various areas of global, regional, national and sub-national development requires further inquiry into the role of law in dealing with many of the current and emerging issues relevant to both Poles. Although law is not a panacea for all issues, it has its own role to play in dealing with many of them.”A broad overview of Polar law issues was presented in the pioneering Polar Law Textbook, N. Loukacheva ed. Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers, Tema Nord 538: 2010 (www.norden.org).This textbook represents the outcome of a cooperative process between an international group of well-known experts in the area of Polar law and related studies. Polar Law Textbook II further draws upon Polar law as an evolving and developing field of studies which is gaining increasing recognition and intersects with many other areas in the social sciences and humanities. It explores a variety of legal issues in the Arctic and Antarctica (i.e., questions of human rights law, environmental law, law of the sea, continental shelf, climate change, energy law, resources, indigenous peoples’ rights, etc.,) but also covers the relevant aspects of geopolitics, security, governance, search and rescue, biodiversity, devolution, institutions (e.g., the Arctic Council) and political developments.

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Polar Bears and International Law

Concluded in 1973, the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears and their Habitat (ACPB) was primarily developed as a response to commercial over-hunting of bears in some polar bear states, in particular the United States (Alaska) and Norway (Svalbard)(1). The ACPB principally sought to address this problem by banning hunting (Article 1(1)) and, in particular, banning hunting using large motorised vessels and aircraft (Art. IV). Under the Agreement, harvesting may still occur for scientific purposes, conservation purposes and in connection with the management of other species (Art. III(1)). In addition, and most importantly, the ACPB contemplated the continuation of harvesting by indigenous peoples where this was already occurring (Alaska, Russia, Canada and Greenland) (2).

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