Micronationalism in Antarctica

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Antarctica is the only continent on Earth that has areas that are not claimed by any government. Only territorial claims divide the continent, although some of these claims are only recognized by their respective countries. Because of this, Antarctica has been a hot spot for micronationalism.

Legitimacy

In 1959, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States signed the Antarctic Treaty. It was agreed among members of the Antarctic Treaty that no nation shall lay claim to West Antarctica, a region bordered by the Argentine/British claim, New Zealand’s claim and the Ross Ice Shelf. A number of micronations, over many years, have thought that a loophole exists in the Treaty: that individual claimants were not bound to this treaty. As a result, several micronations claim territory in West Antarctica.

The 'loophole' theory is thought to have originated from the establishment of Westarctica in 2001. Its founder, Travis McHenry, stated that the treaty only applied to countries. Hence, he claimed the land as an individual, something copied by most micronations claiming land in Antarctica today.

However, this premise does appear to be explicitly refuted by Article IV, Clause 2 of the Antarctic Treaty:

"No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica. No new claim, or enlargement of an existing claim, to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica shall be asserted while the present Treaty is in force."

The clause does not make any distinction between individuals and countries, stating only that no new claims or expansion of claims at all are permitted under the Treaty. It also makes clear that nothing in the treaty should be interpreted as legitimising any claims to territory in Antarctica. However, the stipulation of both the United Stated of America and Russia (originally made as the USSR) that they reserve the right to assert a claim in the future brings further confusion to the matter.

List of micronations

Antarctic micronations

These here are the current active micronations located in Antarctica.

Former micronations

Several micronations have existed in Antarctica, but have since been abandoned or reformed.

Antarctic Micronational Union

Main article: AMU
Flag of AMU.

The Antarctic Micronational Union is the first micronational multinational organisation that comprises only of Antarctic micronations. The main goal of the AMU is to organize all Antarctic micronations and protect each other's territory and claims. The AMU also kept records about all claims in Antarctica to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts. It was formally established on 6 December 2008 by the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis, the Kingdom of Finismund and Marie State as the Grupo del Acuerdo Micronacional Antarctico (GAMA).

The AMU was founded so as to prevent illegal claims of other micronations. The former Grand Duchy of Westarctica that disappeared at the beginning of 2008, for instance, returned on 31 December 2008 and demanded that Finismund, Flandrensis and Marie State return their territories.

The administration of the GAMA was a mess so the organization needed changes. On 15 January 2010, Grand Duke Niels I of Flandrensis was elected as the first Secretary-General (later renamed to Administrative-General). The same day GAMA was renamed into the Antarctic Micronational Union (a name that has more clarity). In September 2014 Niels of Flandrensis announced his decision to resign as Administrative-General, and on 19 September 2014 he was succeeded by Yaroslav Mar, the President of Lostisland.

The organization continued in this capacity until 4 November 2016, when Flandrensis left the organisation in protest at an alleged unwillingness of its leadership to start pursuing an ecological agenda in regards to the continent. AMU Administrative-General Yaroslav Mar disputed this, publishing an e-mail in which he had offered Grand Duke Niels the chance to draft a new, more environmentally-focused charter for the organisation. Nevertheless, the departure of Flandrensis triggered an exodus of member-states, leading to the de facto collapse of the organisation by the end of the year.

The organization saw a revival in 2020, with a number of claimants and their successors making up the membership.

Transantarctic Supramicronational Alliance

TSA logo
Main article: Transantarctic Supramicronational Union

The TSA was officially established on March 11th, 2020 as an alliance of several micronations with claims on the Antarctic continent. The beginning of 2020 manifested itself with a need for a micronational organization which would:

  • Effectively monitor the political situation in the Antarctic area, individual/national/micronational activities on the continent and global continental processes of both natural and human character.
  • Have an election based rotary management (with elections held every year).
  • Be easy contactable by both solicited and unsolicited individuals and organizations.
  • Have a diplomatic approach towards new parties as opposed to a forward sanctionary approach.
  • Provide a clear stance on new continental claims (with a brief history of Antarctic micronationalism) to upcoming Antarctic micronations or micronations with intent of claiming any Antarctic territory.
  • Add geopolitical balance to current Antarctic micronationalism making it multilateral.

TSA constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.

Union of Micronational Land Claims

Main article: UMLC
Flag of UMLC.

Following the collapse of the AMU in late 2016, Antarctic micronations lacked a continental governing body. This period lasted until early 2019 when (becoming aware of the AMU's lack of activity), micronationalist Charles Ross created what he wishes to be considered the direct follow up to the AMU. This organization became known as the Union of Micronational Land Claims.

Although the organization has a small number of members - none of which are major, traditional claimants to Antarctica such as Flandrensis or Westarctica - the UMLC aims to serve a similar job to that of the AMU and was the only contemporary organisation which attempts to govern Antarctica's micronational world until the AMU's revival in 2020.

See also