Politics at the End of the World: a public forum on the future of Antarctica

Co-presented by the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at the University of Sydney and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

Antarctica forum image

17 Sept 2012

This unusual public forum addresses current political developments in Antarctica and their long-term global significance. The speakers, leading practitioners and prominent scholars from several walks of life, will address such questions as: Is Antarctica the first continent to go beyond the modern doctrine of sovereignty and, if so, is it relevant for the way we think about such matters as the global commons and how the world should be governed in the 21st century? How defective are the governing arrangements of the continent? Are they in need of serious reform? What can citizens learn from current scientific research in Antarctica?

The public forum will also pay close attention to the political challenges facing Antarctica, including damage to the local ecosystems, rivalries among states and growing pressures to open up the continent to mining operations, tourism and bio-prospecting.

The panel will be chaired by Professor John Keane, Director of the newly-founded Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (IDHR) and Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney


  • Bob Brown was elected to the Senate in 1996, after 10 years as an MHA in Tasmania's state parliament. In his first speech in the Senate, Bob raised the threat posed by climate change. Government and opposition members laughed at his warning of sea level rises and it has taken 10 years for them to finally begin to acknowledge the causes and effects of climate change. Bob was re-elected to the Senate in 2001. Following the election of four Greens senators in 2004, Bob became parliamentary leader of the Australian Greens in 2005. Bob stepped down as Leader of the Australian Greens, and then retired from the Senate in June 2012.
  • Jeff Hansen is Australian Director of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organisation. Their mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Jeff joined Sea Shepherd in 2006 as a ground support volunteer and was invited to serve on board the M/Y Steve Irwin during 2007-2008 Antarctic Whale Defence Campaign, after which he was appointed the Australian Director.
  • Gillian Triggs is the current president of the Australian Human Rights Commission (HRC). She is a Public International lawyer and a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria. She was previously Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Sydney. She has published papers and books on the World Trade Organisation, Energy and Resources Law, Law of the Sea, Territorial Sovereignty, Jurisdiction and Immunity, International Criminal Law, International Environmental Law and Human Rights.