Antipodean Nuclear Free Zones: Testing Times for Antarctica and the South Pacific

October 19, 2023

Australia and New Zealand have historically promoted strong anti-nuclear policies at both a global, regional, and sub-regional level. They joined with the United States and the other original parties to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty to make Antarctica nuclear free. Both countries also took France to the International Court of Justice in 1973 in order to bring about a halt to France’s nuclear testing program in the South Pacific, and actively promoted the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone in the 1985 Treaty of Rarotonga. However, in 2021 Australia along with the UK and US announced the AUKUS initiative, which in March 2023 was finalized in San Diego. Australia will eventually acquire AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines during the 2030s. This has placed a spotlight on Australia’s anti-nuclear credentials and its international law commitments and has attracted criticism from within the Asia Pacific, including from New Zealand, Pacific island states, and China. This seminar considers these issues through the lens of international law.

00:00:00 Moderator: Avner Cohen, Professor, Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, Middlebury Institute of International Studies
00:01:44 Speaker: Donald R. Rothwell, Professor of International Law, ANU College of Law, Australian National University
00:57:07 Q&A

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