People at the Poles

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Polar Law, Arctic, Antarctic, People-Centred Activities


This Chapter considers international law relating to humans in the Arctic and in Antarctica in order to determine whether law relating to ‘people’ may be part of a distinct discipline known as ‘Polar Law’. We first consider what is meant by ‘the Poles’ in international law, then how international law engages with ‘people’. We explore the relationship between people and the Poles, identifying similarities and differences between the law in Arctic and Antarctic contexts as applied to different people-centred activities. Our analysis considers international law specific to each of the Poles in order to compare and contrast the role of people within these regimes; considers whether, and if so how, international law more generally has been applied to people in the Arctic or in Antarctica differently from other parts of the world; and explores whether insights may emerge from novel application of domestic laws to people at the Poles.