Regulating Antarctic Tourism and the Precautionary Principle

The American Journal of International Law 98: 4 (2004): 763-781

22 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2013

Date Written: May 15, 2004


Tourism in the Antarctic is increasing rapidly and it is expected that it will increase further in coming years. This Chapter discusses the issue of international regulation of Antarctic tourism; the assessment, prevention and regulation of cumulative impacts; and the status and possible practical relevance of the precautionary principle in the management of Antarctic tourism. Regulating Antarctic tourism is more than an environmental issue, with economic, practical and political implications. Adequate regulation of Antarctic tourism may be regarded as a challenge to the Antarctic Treaty System. The measures that have been adopted so far and most of the options under discussion should be characterized as “conditions” that do not address the more fundamental questions in relation to Antarctic tourism in the medium and long term. In our view, the developments in Antarctic tourism and related uncertainties regarding potential cumulative impacts may, now or in the near future, require the adoption of restrictions to Antarctic tourism activities to prevent irreversible damage in the future. This Chapter discusses the potential value of the precautionary principle for Antarctic management and refutes the assumption that application of the principle should always result in extreme solutions, such as a total ban on tourism in Antarctica.

Keywords: Antarctica, Antarctic, tourism, Polar tourism, precaution, precautionary principle, cumulative impacts, regulation, Antarctic Treaty System, environmental impact assessment, self-regulation, IAATO

JEL Classification: K32, K33, N50, Q20, Q26, Q28, Q30, O13

Suggested Citation

Bastmeijer, Kees and Roura, Ricardo, Regulating Antarctic Tourism and the Precautionary Principle (May 15, 2004). The American Journal of International Law 98: 4 (2004): 763-781, Available at SSRN:

Kees Bastmeijer (Contact Author)

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O.Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE


Ricardo Roura

Independent ( email )

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