Polar Law Group

The Arctic region makes up 10% of the earth's surface, and until recently, was mostly inaccessible to humans. Climate change is making the Arctic region more accessible, bringing with it new challenges and opportunities. These developments include the devolution of government powers and responsibilities to Indigenous communities, the opening of shipping lanes, impacts on biodiversity, greater interest by non-Arctic states to the region (e.g. China), and more. Almost every development has a legal aspect to it, whether it is through the implication of domestic laws in Canada or international legal agreements creating obligations on states. In the absence of a single, unified legal agreement regulating all activity relating to the Arctic region, studying "Arctic law" requires examining a diversity of laws and legal regimes across the world.

At the other end of the pole lies Antarctica. Unlike the Arctic region, which comprises of a body of water surrounded by land mass, Antarctica is a permanently ice-covered continent governed by the 1958 Antarctica Treaty, which mandates that the continent be used by a peaceful and co-operative international research zone. Studying "Antarctic law" starts with the Antarctica Treaty, but continues onto related treaties on conservation of fauna and flora, seals and marine living resources. International treaties on the environment and other agreements implicate the Antarctic region as well. 

The Polar Law Group is a student-led initiative dedicated to creating a forum for studying legal issues relating to the Arctic and Antarctic regions at the University of Toronto. The group participates in an international discussion group on Arctic issues and organizes socials, and events (online and/or in-person) on contemporary legal issues relating to the Arctic and Antarctic region. Given the complexity of the region, understanding the Arctic and Antarctic region requires an interdisciplinary perspective. Students across the Faculty of Law and the University of Toronto, with experience and interest in topics pertaining to the region, ranging from Indigenous rights, international law, energy development, maritime law, trade and investment, cultural heritage, scientific co-operation, biodiversity, and more, are encouraged to participate. 

Contact Information

If you are interested in joining, please email Emily Tsui at emily.tsui@mail.utoronto.ca 

To receive updates on events or other opportunities, please join our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1515762705292698