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Palgrave Macmillan

Who Saved Antarctica?

The Heroic Era of Antarctic Diplomacy

  • Book
  • © 2021


  • Reveals how the operation of the Antarctic Treaty System offers a uniquely evolved international regime
  • Demonstrates how a complex interaction of domestic policy and international law facilitated a rethinking attitudes towards the Antarctic
  • Highlights the importance of the art of consensus in international diplomacy

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About this book

This book provides a diplomatic history of a turning point in Antarctic governance: the 1991 adoption of comprehensive environmental protection obligations for an entire continent, which prohibited mining. Solving the mining issue became a symbol of finding diplomatic consensus. The book combines historiographic concepts of contingency, conjuncture and accidental events with theories of structural, entrepreneurial and intellectual leadership. Drawing on archival documents, it shows that Antarctic governance is more adaptive than some imagine, and policy success depends on the interplay of normative practices, serendipitous events, public engagement and influential players able to exploit those circumstances. Ultimately, the events revealed in this book show that the protection of the Antarctic Treaty itself remains as important as protecting the Antarctic environment.

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Table of contents (10 chapters)


'Who Saved Antarctica? tackles a celebrated episode in Antarctic diplomatic history, one that has generated legends and heroes. Andrew Jackson journeys beneath the familiar narrative to reveal a much more complex, nuanced and believable reality, building a bedrock of analysis that will strengthen present and future work in the Antarctic Treaty System. He writes as both scholar and practitioner, a wise and discerning participant-observer of processes and protocols he knows intimately. The result is a powerful piece of storytelling as well as a brilliant work of scholarship.'

--Tom Griffiths, Emeritus Professor of History, Australian National University, Australia

‘By leveraging newly available archives Andrew Jackson has produced an original and fascinating story from the engine room of Antarctic policy making that challenges the conventional wisdom on the overturning of the Antarctic minerals convention and that produced one of Australia’s greatest diplomatic triumphs.’

 --Anthony Bergin, Senior Fellow, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, author of The Politics of Antarctic Minerals: the Greening of White Australia

 ‘The stressing of the Antarctic Treaty to breaking point, snubbing of the closest and oldest allies, dumping of the extraordinary diplomatic achievement of a minerals convention, conjunction of the interests of a mining industry out to protect its patch and an environmental movement out to protect a continent, a jostling of the egos of heads of government and culmination in a comprehensive regime to protect the Antarctic environment. All this and more is in this fascinating tale from the pen of Andrew Jackson. Rarely has there been a more dispassionate, perceptive insider account of a matter of still contemporary relevance given the impermanence of the mining ban.’

 --William Bush, international lawyer, compiler of Antarctica and International Law: a Collection of Inter-state and National Documents.

Authors and Affiliations

  • University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

    Andrew Jackson

About the author

Andrew Jackson is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Tasmania.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Who Saved Antarctica?

  • Book Subtitle: The Heroic Era of Antarctic Diplomacy

  • Authors: Andrew Jackson

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: History, History (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-78404-1Published: 05 October 2021

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-78407-2Published: 06 October 2022

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-78405-8Published: 04 October 2021

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XVIII, 424

  • Topics: Modern History, History, general

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