WORKSHOP ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF MALAYSIA’S OBLIGATIONS IN THE ANTARCTIC TREATY SYSTEM AND MADRID PROTOCOL
Recognising the importance of understanding the environmental impact and biodiversity of Antarctica, Malaysian Government approved the setting up of Malaysian Antarctic research programme (MARP) in 1997.
In October, 2011, Malaysia acceded to the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), which provides the legal mechanism in ensuring freedom, promotion and development of international scientific investigations on the continent. In September, 2016, Malaysia had also ratified the Madrid Protocol or the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, thus become a member of the Committee on Environmental Protection (CEP).
The Madrid Protocol is the international agreement that establishes the framework for comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment. The Protocol was opened for signature on 4 October 1991 and entered into force on 14 January 1998. As a Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty, the Madrid Protocol was intended to strengthen the Treaty as the governance framework for the Antarctic. The Protocol was designed around a core set of environmental principles, with a series of Annexes establishing more detailed rules and provisions. The central principles of the Protocol are:
- The designation of Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”;
- A prohibition on mining and mineral resource activities in the Antarctica Treaty area;
- The requirement that protection of the environment shall be a fundamental consideration in the planning and conduct of all activities in the Antarctic;
- A comprehensive framework for assessing environmental impacts in Antarctica, including prior assessment of all activities;
- A requirement to establish contingency plans and provide for prompt and effective response to environmental emergencies in the Antarctic; and
- The establishment of the Committee for Environmental Protection.
Ratification of the Protocol commits the state parties including Malaysia to a comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems. In order to implement our obligations under the 1959 Treaty and the 1998 Madrid Protocol, the Government of Malaysia under the leadership of MOSTI has drafted a national legislation in the form of an Antarctica Bill.
The objectives of the workshop are:
- to learn from other CEP members on national obligations following Malaysia’s accession to ATS and ratification to Madrid Protocol; and
- to look into the permitting issues related to Malaysian scientific expedition to Antarctica.
An expert from CEP member country will be invited to share his/her country experience in the implementation of the country obligations under the ATS and Madrid Protocol.
In view of various obligations which include research, transportation, protection of fauna and flora and environment which falls under different ministries, departments and agencies, it is proposed that relevant ministries, departments and agencies as well as scientific institutions to be represented in the workshop. They include MOSTI, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment, Ministry of Transport, Department of Environment, Attorney-General’s Chambers, universities etc.