Wikileaks - MCCCXLVII

Monday, 05 September, Year 3 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu




1. Begin Summary and Comment: The 32nd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) met in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 6-17, 2009, to discuss a range of issues related to Antarctica. The Meeting was convened initially at the Department of State in Washington as part of the first-ever joint meeting of the ATCM and the Arctic Council. The Secretary hosted a ministerial session among the 28 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties and eight Arctic Council countries focusing first on the International Polar Year and polar science, and then on commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty. The participants adopted ministerial declarations on each of these two topics.

2. At the ATCM, the United States successfully led efforts to adopt a Measure making mandatory an earlier recommendation that persons not be landed from tourist vessels carrying more than 500 passengers. Additional binding restrictions were adopted for the landing of passengers from smaller craft. The Parties also supported a U.S. initiative to engage the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in promoting vessel safety in the Treaty area, including work toward adopting a mandatory polar shipping code and stronger lifeboat protections. Finally, the Meeting took action on a third U.S. proposal recommending extension northward to the Antarctic Convergence of IMO limitations on vessel discharges in the Special Area of the Southern Ocean. In cooperating to enhance environmental protection for the entire Antarctic ecosystem, including marine ecosystems, the views of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources are being sought in considering next steps within the IMO.

3. The ATCM made notable progress in a number of areas other than those related to tourism and shipping. Prominent among these was the adoption of 13 Measures establishing or revising plans for Antarctic specially managed and protected areas (including five proposed by the United States). Capping eight years of negotiation, the Meeting also adopted a Measure amending Annex II on Antarctic fauna and flora to better reflect latest science. Efforts to adopt a new approach to biological prospecting, including a potential benefits sharing scheme (which the United States opposes) were turned back in favor of a Resolution reaffirming the Treaty system as the appropriate framework for managing the collection of biological material and considering its use. The ATCM,s Final Report noted the view that the Law of the Sea Convention and other international and domestic law should be taken into account in addressing this complex matter. The ATCM also agreed to terms of reference for Expert Meetings hosted by New Zealand and Norway, respectively, on ship-borne tourism and climate change in Antarctica.

4. Comment: Events surrounding the 32nd ATCM effectively integrated several themes in U.S. polar diplomacy. They reaffirmed principles contained in the Antarctic Treaty, the first modern arms control accord and a model for successful international cooperation on science. They also canvassed the achievements of the 2007-09 IPY, and lent diplomatic support for scientific research at the Poles critical to a better understanding of Earth systems. Finally, they showcased the potential for collaboration between the ATCM and the Arctic Council as bodies which, while having evolved in different legal and political circumstances, share responsibility for regions both disproportionately affected by and uniquely positioned to offer insights on climate change.

5. The ATCM itself was unusually productive in generating no fewer than sixteen Measures, eight Decisions, and nine Resolutions ) all in fewer working days than any recent ATCM. U.S. tourist and shipping-related initiatives were all either adopted or meaningfully advanced. In a number of areas ) including steps toward more coherent eco-system management, better understanding cumulative environmental impacts, updating Treaty texts to reflect current science, and establishing prospective rules of the road for tourism ) the ATCM addressed long range issues pro-actively. The work of a special 50th anniversary working group, in particular, evinced growing appreciation among the Parties for more strategic planning and the ATCM,s need, while acknowledging its own special responsibilities, to work with other international organizations on issues of common concern. End Summary and Comment.

Attendance and Membership

6. The 32nd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) was held in Washington, DC, and Baltimore, Maryland, on April 6-17, 2009. All 28 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties attended the Meeting (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay), as well as 9 of the 19 Non-Consultative Parties (Belarus, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Monaco, Romania, and Switzerland). Observers attended from the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP), and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). Experts also attended from the following intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations: the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the International Program Office for the International Polar Year (IPY-IPO), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Malaysia observed ATCM proceedings for the sixth consecutive year and, after having detailed for Parties progress made with a view to acceding to the Treaty, was invited to observe the 33rd ATCM as well.

7. The 23-person U.S. delegation led by OES/OPA Deputy Director Evan Bloom included USG representation from the Department, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. delegation also included one U.S.-based non-governmental representative each from ASOC, IAATO, SCAR, and Oceanites (an environmental monitoring group assessing the status of wildlife in areas frequented by tourists). Two Senate Commerce Committee staff observed parts of the Meeting.

Joint Meeting of the ATCM and Arctic Council

8. The ATCM was convened in the Department of State,s Loy Henderson Auditorium on April 6 by OES Acting Assistant Secretary Reno L. Harnish as the first order of business in the first-ever joint meeting of the ATCM and the Arctic Council. Despite important historic, legal, and political distinctions, these bodies are the premier diplomatic bodies focused on their respective geographic regions. An important function of both is promoting polar science of the sort advanced during the 2007-09 International Polar Year (IPY), which had just drawn to a close on March 31. Senior representatives of all 28 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties, all eight Arctic Council countries, and eight Antarctic Treaty Non-Consultative Parties attended the half-day session which had as its focus celebrating the achievements of the IPY, lending diplomatic support to future scientific research at the Poles, and observing the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed in Washington on December 1, 1959. Among those attending were one Head of State (Prince Albert of Monaco), eight foreign ministers (Argentina, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the United States, and Uruguay) and five other ministerial-level officials (Australia, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, and the Netherlands).

9. Secretary Clinton opened the joint meeting with remarks noting the historic significance and continued relevance of the Antarctic Treaty, especially in facilitating better scientific understanding of climate change. She characterized the Treaty as a blueprint for the kind of international cooperation that will be needed to address the challenges of the 21st Century, and an example of quote smart power unquote at its best. The Secretary cited the collapse, on April 5, of an ice bridge between the Wilkins Ice Shelf and the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula as a timely reminder of the effect of global warming, and reaffirmed U.S. commitment to working with other nations in the run-up to climate talks later this year in Copenhagen. She cited environmental changes in the Arctic and their ramifications for shipping and energy exploration in affirming the Administration,s commitment to ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention. The Secretary also announced the President,s having sent to the Senate, on April 3, Annex VI to the Antarctic Treaty,s Protocol on Environmental Protection which deals with liability arising environmental emergencies in the Treaty area. She also encouraged Parties to act favorably on several key U.S. environmental and tourist initiatives at the upcoming 32nd ATCM. The text of the Secretary,s remarks is at 1314.htm.

10. Norwegian Foreign Minister Store, whose country chaired the Arctic Council, followed the Secretary with remarks emphasizing the importance of international coordination of polar research and the need for improved implementation of the existing extensive framework for governance. He noted that climate change is the ultimate political challenge of our generation, and our legacy to future generations. Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology then delivered a keynote address on the significance of the IPY and the importance of continuing international cooperation in building on its considerable achievements. He affirmed U.S. commitment to supporting science and using scientific findings to shape policy.

11. New Zealand Foreign Minister McCully and Uruguayan Foreign Minister Fernandez then led meeting participants, respectively, in a discussion of IPY accomplishments and future priorities in polar science. FM McCully reviewed his country,s IPY activities before inviting interventions by colleagues from Australia, Argentina, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom.

FM Fernandez cited several areas as priorities for future scientific investigation, including ice-field dynamics and regional changes in biodiversity, before ceding the floor to interventions by representatives of Belgium, Monaco, China, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, and Iceland. During the ministerial discussion period, Deputy Secretary Steinberg noted the importance of strengthening regional observational networks, providing research opportunities for a new generation of polar scientists, and educating the public on the importance of polar regions in better understanding climate change. The text of all national interventions, including several that were submitted in writing, will be posted to the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat,s website at e.htm.

12. Memorializing the achievements and dedicating themselves to sustaining the legacy of IPY, meeting participants then adopted a Ministerial Declaration on the International Polar Year and Polar Science. Language in the declaration committed the Parties to reviewing key issues related to scientific cooperation and recent scientific findings at their future meetings, and to using science to help inform the development of measures to address threats to the polar regions. Parties recommended that their governments continue efforts to create and link observational systems to improve the modeling and prediction of climate change, both regionally and over time, and encouraged states and international bodies to harness IPY research in support concrete initiatives to protect the polar environment. The text of the IPY Declaration is at 340.htm.

13. In a concluding segment commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty, Treaty Parties adopted a second Ministerial Declaration, which reaffirmed their commitment to the objectives and purposes of the Treaty, specifically including Article IV(freezing territorial claims) and Article 7 of the Treaty,s Environmental Protocol (banning Antarctic mining activities). The Declaration also encouraged collaboration with other international organizations whose expertise enhances the ATCM,s ability to promote safety and environmental protection in Antarctica. Text of the 50th Anniversary Declaration is at 339.htm. Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, R. Tucker Scully, who had been elected the ATCM Chairman at the beginning of the joint Meeting, delivered remarks and unveiled a commemorative plaque that will eventually be placed near the Board Room of the National Academies of Science Building, where Treaty negotiations were held.

14. After the joint meeting of the ATCM and Arctic Council, the Secretary hosted a luncheon in honor of her counterparts and other participants. The National Science Foundation then sponsored a series of scientific lectures on key findings made during the IPY. The day,s activities concluded with a reception co-hosted by the Department and the Smithsonian Institution at the recently inaugurated Sant Ocean Hall at the National Museum of Natural History.

Procedural Matters

15. The ATCM reconvened in regular session at the Baltimore Convention Center on April 7. During the opening plenary, 21 agenda items were distributed among three longstanding Working Groups (WGs) and a special 50th Anniversary WG established to reflect on a long-term agenda for the ATCM. Olav Orheim of Norway was selected to chair the Legal and Institutional WG which met concurrently during the ATCM,s first week with the Committee on Environmental Protection (CEP), which was chaired by New Zealand,s Neil Gilbert. After meeting in Plenary on April 14 to adopt the CEP,s report, the ATCM broke into a Tourism WG chaired by the U.S. Head of Delegation and an Operational WG chaired by Jose Retamales of Chile. The Tourism and Operational WGs met in a special joint session during the second week to consider several papers dealing with human safety and environmental issues related to Antarctic shipping. The 50th Anniversary Working Group met during both weeks under the chairmanship of the ATCM Chairman.

16. During the opening plenary, delegates heard reports from depositaries of several Antarctic instruments, including a presentation by the United States which, as depositary of the Antarctic Treaty, reported that Belarus had acceded to the Protocol on Environmental Protection, all but one Party (Brazil) had approved Measure 1 (2003) establishing the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat, and that Spain and Poland had joined Sweden and Peru in approving Protocol Annex VI on Liability.

17. Several observers and expert organizations delivered papers on their work during the past year. Notable among these were presentations by 1) CCAMLR, (at which point, ASOC and the United States expressed concern about lack of consensus on achieving one hundred percent observer coverage on krill fishing vessels in the Convention area); 2) SCAR, which reported on its first IPY science conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, in July 2008; and 3) COMNAP, which reported on its new constitution which committed the organization to developing and promoting best practices in support of Antarctic scientific research.

18. IAATO reported a 16 percent decline in Antarctic tourism during 2008-09 on account of the global financial crisis, and projected that an estimated 39,000 tourists this year would grow to fewer than 43,000 in 2009-10 ) below the record 46,000 reported in 2007-08. In its report to the Meeting, the IHO expressed concern about slow progress among Parties in assigning higher priority to charting in Antarctica, and urged the adoption of national rules and guidelines similar to those contained in SOLAS Chapter V, Regulation 9. In presenting its report and related submissions to the ATCM, ASOC called on Parties to move swiftly to approve Protocol Annex VI (Liability), expedite efforts to deal with tourism and biological prospecting, and develop a system of marine protected areas and reserves in the Southern Ocean.

Legal and Institutional Issues

19. The Legal and Institutional WG opened its deliberations with discussion of a U.S. initiative recommending that Parties take action within the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to extend the Antarctic Special Area, and its restrictions on vessel discharges, northward from the Treaty Area to the Antarctic Convergence. It proposed that Parties assess the feasibility of individual vessels observing Special Area provisions whenever they find, by the measurement of seawater temperature, that the Convergence is located further north than that northern limit set in the CCAMLR Convention.

20. While there was broad support for measures protecting the entire Antarctic marine ecosystem, questions were raised by the United Kingdom and Russia, among others, about the role and competency of the ATCM to recommend action north of the Treaty area; i.e., 60 degrees South latitude. The United States chaired discussion on the margins after which the Meeting adopted a Resolution urging Parties to enhance environmental protection of the entire Antarctic marine ecosystem, to seek the views of CCAMLR on the proposed recommendation to the IMO, and to consider at the next ATCM the views of CCAMLR in deciding whether to recommend steps be taken within the IMO to extend the Antarctic Special Area northward to the Antarctic Convergence. The United States and several other countries underscored that jurisdictional concerns were unfounded and that the Treaty,s Environmental Protocol commits all Parties to the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic ecosystem and dependent and associated ecosystems. It was also noted that the ATCM had previously acted in support of measures before the IMO to extend environmental protection to the Antaractic Convergence in Resolution 3 (2006) on Practical Guidelines for Ballast Water Exchange in the Antarctic Treaty area, where such exchanges should occur outside the treaty area and north of the Antarctic Convergence.

21. The Russian Federation proposed in a paper on the role and place of COMNAP in the Antarctic Treaty system a Decision approving COMNAP,s new constitution and providing the body additional formal recognition. While the United States did not consider such additional recognition necessary given COMNAP,s observer status at the ATCM, it joined in adopting a Resolution noting the important role that COMNAP plays in supporting the Antarctic Treaty Parties.

22. The Parties finalized an eight-year effort to revise Annex II of the Treaty,s Environmental Protocol and ensure that it comports with latest science. Australia proposed in a working paper language drawing on progress made at the 31st ATCM and, on the margins, led discussions that led to the adoption of a Measure that will replace the original Annex II once it is approved. Notable amendments to the original text included (1) extending protections afforded by the Annex to include native terrestrial and freshwater invertebrates, (2) strengthening protections for those species designated as Specially Protected Species pursuant to the Annex, and (3) further developing the procedures for listing a species as a Specially Protected Species. The United States cited during negotiations the complex interaction between Annex II and the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, and noted the need for additional discussions on how two agreements would now relate to each other.

23. In accordance with Article 9 of the Annex, the amendments will be deemed to have been approved and will become effective one year from the close of the Meeting, unless one or more Consultative Parties notifies the depositary that it needs an extension or that it will be unable to approve the Measure. At this juncture, the United States must determine whether Senate advice and consent will be needed to approve the Measure or whether it can be concluded as an executive agreement. Additionally, some edits and additions to the existing implementing legislation for Annex II will be required before the United States can approve the Measure.

24. Norway proposed and the ATCM adopted a Decision convening an Antarctic Treaty Meeting of Experts. Among topics to be discussed at the meeting, which will be hosted by Norway on April 6-9, 2010, are 1) key scientific aspects of climate change and their consequences for Antarctica,s environment, 2) their implications for managing Antarctic activities, and 3) the relevance to Antarctica of conclusions reached at the upcoming Copenhagen meeting on climate change. In addition to the Parties, a range of ATCM observers and expert organizations were invited to attend, including representatives of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).

25. The Antarctic Treaty Secretariat submitted several papers which described its activities in 2008-09, proposed a Secretariat program for 2009-10, and presented its budget for the years 2007-2011. The Executive Secretary reviewed progress since the last ATCM on a range of tasks with emphasis on the establishment of an Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES), and making available a comprehensive electronic archive of ATCM documents, final reports, and measures adopted over the past 50 years. He cited an updated version of the Antarctic Treaty Handbook, heretofore prepared by the United States as the Treaty,s depositary, as the sole area on which meaningful progress had not been made. The United States asked for and received information concerning the status of efforts to develop on the Secretariat,s website a dynamic database of Antarctic specially protected and managed areas, for which OES had provided funding during 2008.

26. The heads of delegation participated in interviews of five leading candidates for the position of Executive Secretary of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat. After several rounds of voting, heads of delegation decided to extend to German Antarctic scientist and program administrator Dr. Manfred Reinke an offer to serve as Executive Secretary for a four-year period beginning on September 1, 2009. In his new capacity, Dr. Reinke will implement a Secretariat program over the next year which will include full implementation of the EIES and further development of the protected areas database, as well as preparation of a final report of the 32nd ATCM and logistical support for the 33rd ATCM.

27. Secretariat finances were a major focus of work in the Legal and Institutional WG. There was broad agreement among Parties that further cuts, especially in areas of IT equipment and staff training, could undermine the Secretariat,s ability to do its work. Modest additional savings were nonetheless achieved through the adoption of revised guidelines for submission, translation, and distribution of ATCM and CEP documents.

28. Parties discussed the implications of pending approval by all Parties of Measure 1 (2003), which will shift the burden of paying for ATCM interpretation from the hosting Party to the Secretariat. If its assumption of new fiscal responsibilities occurs during the next year, the Secretariat budget is expected to grow from approximately USD 900,000 to USD 1,300,000. The annual U.S. assessment, currently pegged at $40,500 for 2010-11 could grow to $58,300 as early as the payment made in January 2011 for 2011-12. With a view to anticipating possible budgetary shortfalls in paying for ATCM translation, a Decision approving the Secretariat,s program and budget for 2009-10 also provided for creation of a USD 30,000 Translation Contingency Fund.

29. Thirteen Parties (including the United States) reported on progress having been made during the past year on approving Annex VI of the Treaty,s Environmental Protocol, which deals with liability arising from environmental emergencies in the Treaty area. Several of those Parties indicated that it was likely that they may be able to approve -- 10. (SBU) The Opposition will continue to contrast the economic numbers Rudd inherited with those he presides over, and claim that the cuts to middle class benefits are a result of Labor's "reckless" economic stimulus spending. Opposition Qof Labor's "reckless" economic stimulus spending. Opposition Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey maintains the Government has lost control of the nation's finances.

11. (SBU) The Australian Industry Group and others have warned that the projected future economic growth rates are too optimistic, and many that last year criticized the GOA for "talking down" the economy (the fact that the GOA turned out to be correct to fear a slowdown does not seem to matter) now accuse them of being too optimistic. But polls indicate that voters believe the GOA claims that it has done a good job in the context of the "worst global recession in 75 years." On the other hand, some Sydney bankers tell us that they think the earlier years numbers are too pessimistic; they see growth in FY2009-10 of 0.7 percent rather than falling back 0.5 percent, and speculate that the GOA is

CANBERRA 00000452 003 OF 003

setting itself up for an upside surprise.

12. (SBU) If unemployment exceeds expectations - and the GOA has been open in saying they expect it to hit 8.5 percent - despite deficit spending and stimulus plans, it could dent the Government's popularity. There are also political challenges for the Opposition. If it takes the side of the budget "losers" and opposes some of the spending cuts, it will be accused of undermining its position on reducing debt. On the other hand, by supporting the cuts it may be viewed as tacitly accepting Treasurer Swan's assertion that the Howard government spent "as if the mining boom was never going to end." Furthermore, by continuing to criticize the extent of government spending, the Opposition opens itself up to a fear campaign about cuts to essential services and job losses. If the Liberal/National Coalition were in power today and faced these economic conditions, it too would run a significant deficit, as Hockey admitted on radio this morning. We accept Swan's assertions that to slash spending and/or raise taxes during the economic downturn would be irresponsible. It would also be politically foolish, since it would likely contribute to a deeper and longer economic downturn in Australia. End comment.


Category: Breaking News
Comments feed : RSS 2.0. Leave your own comment below, or send a trackback.
Add your cents! »
    If this is your first comment, it will wait to be approved. This usually takes a few hours. Subsequent comments are not delayed.