Antarctica: an inchoate threat to New Zealand’s Security: implications for national policy and the Armed Services
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15986
National interest has always exerted a significant influence over the geopolitical affairs of Antarctica. During the first half of the twentieth century national interest was fuelled by the inimical politics of whaling, which of itself created tension amongst those states that had a presence on the Antarctic continent. With the ratification of the Antarctic Treaty in 1961 international anxiety over the prospect of Antarctica becoming a superpower playground with nuclear overtones subsided and the world community accepted an obligation to forthwith protect the continent and its unique environment. However, the advent of the Treaty has not curbed the aspirations of state and non-state parties to exploit Antarctica for both its living and non-living resources. Commercial pressure to gain access to Antarctic resources is likely to intensify in the future once exploitable resources elsewhere in the world become increasingly scarce. Reserves of several strategic resources are projected to reach the point of commercial exhaustion within the first three decades of the 21st century. In the Arctic access to resources such as oil and fish continues to sour relations between otherwise friendly countries and was, in part, is responsible for the militarization of the Arctic Ocean region. If the Arctic represents Antarctica's prophetic twin then New Zealand will face an international relations dilemma unlike any it has previously confronted: should it defend its territorial claim over the Ross dependency or withdraw northwards to secure a Sub-Antarctic bastion? This is a rhetorical question for without being part of an amiable union of countries, securing the Ross dependency will be impossible for New Zealand to achieve. Given that such a union cannot be assured, it is in New Zealand's national interest to be militarily prepared to defend its Sub-Antarctic 'backyard'. Military preparedness in New Zealand is determined by national policy, an amalgam of foreign affairs and defence considerations, which in recent years have failed to recognise Antarctica as an inchoate security threat. Consequently, the New Zealand Defence Forces, despite recent capability upgrades, remain inappropriately equipped and ill-prepared to confront any challenge to the territorial integrity of New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic 'backyard' and the resources it may harbour.
The University of Waikato
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