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Polar Law Textbook

image of Polar Law Textbook

The idea for this textbook developed from the recognition of the need to disseminate information about Polar Law as an emerging field of legal studies - an area of study long overdue greater recognition. Developments in the Polar Regions - the Arctic and Antarctica - are now the subject of growing interest and importance. They concern a divergent range of global and regional development issues and beg further inquiry into the role of law in dealing with many of these issues. This textbook is the first educational material of its kind. It attempts to illustrate the importance of legal values in addressing various challenges across the Nordic region, among remote Arctic communities and globally. The textbook focuses on the various developments in international and domestic law concerning the Polar Regions (e.g., issues of environmental law, law of the sea, resources, human rights law and Indigenous peoples’ rights, etc.). By looking at linkages between different areas of law and the other social sciences, the textbook also explores the relevant aspects of the economic, social and political developments affecting both Polar areas (e.g., questions of Polar governance, economics, and the political situation in some of the Arctic areas). The authors hope that this pioneering work will encourage anybody interested in Polar Law to pursue further studies, research or cooperation on the many initiatives which take place within the Nordic, Arctic and global community in relation not just to the Arctic but also to the Antarctic.

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Introduction to Polar Law

There may be multiple approaches to the understanding of this term. For the purposes of this textbook, however, the definition of "polar law" is limited to general international law regulations that are applicable to both the Arctic and the Antarctic (e.g., the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea-UNCLOS). The definition used here also covers international law treaties or conventions that deal with issues specific to the Polar Regions (e.g., for the Arctic - Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears; for the Antarctic - Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, etc.). At the same time, "polar law" also refers to the domestic law of the eight Arctic States (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Russian Federation, and the U.S.A.) with special reference to the different branches of law that address various Arctic-related matters (e.g., Canada's Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act). It is also inclusive of the laws of sub-national Arctic jurisdictions (e.g., Nunavut Wildlife Act, etc.). Plus, as far as the South Pole is concerned, some regulations resultant from the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCMs) need to be incorporated in the national legal systems of each of the Consultative parties (and some non-consultative parties do so). Thus, broadly speaking, "polar law" is a developing field of law that deals with the international and domestic legal regimes that are applicable to the Arctic or the Antarctic, or both.

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