Alongside the purely scientific nature and the first wintering in Antarctica, another innovative feature of the Belgica expedition was its multinational composition. Two, out of its seven persons strong scientific staff, were Polish - H. Arctowski and A. B. Dobrowolski. The first served as scientific deputy-leader of the expedition, the other as laboratory assistant and meteorologist. Their contribution to the scientific success of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition outlined in the present paper, turned into the starting point of brilliant academic careers in the native country and at international level. Both, Arctowski and Dobrowolski, were acknowledged as symbols of the Polish explorations and scientific investigations in polar regions.
In this article, Svalbard was presented as place and object of intensive scientific research, carried on under the rule of the 1920 Spitsbergen Treaty, which has transformed the archipelago into a unique political and legal entity, having no counterpart anywhere else in the world. Scientific activities in Svalbard are carried out within an uncommon legal framework, shaped by a body of instruments both of international law and domestic laws of Norway, as well as other countries concerned, while the Spitsbergen Treaty, in despite of its advanced age of 75 years, still remains a workable international instrument, fundamental to the maintenance of law and order within the whole Arctic region. In 1995 two important for Svalbard anniversaries were noted: on 9 February, 75 years of the signing of the Spitsbegren Treaty and on 14 August, 70 years of the Norwegian rule over the archipelago.
Freedom of research is one of the fundamental principles upon which the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) was founded. Its scope is defined by the limitations imposed by relevant legal rules. They provide among other for prohibition of scientific investigation of military character and declare that no activities — including research — shall constitute a basis for territorial claims in Antarctica. Of particular importance are limitation;' imposed on freedom of research for the benefit of environmental protection. But, contrary to some views, most scholars consider that the freedom of research and the protection of the environment and ecosystems in Antarctica are equally important principles central to the whole ATS. They are inter-dependent and neither one should be attributed priority over the other. In the best interest of science, Antarctic research needs to be controlled to the necessary minimum of environmental impact and risk.
The article provides a general overview of environmental protection and conservation practice in the Antarctic Treaty area, with special reference to the stipulations of the 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection and its Annexes.
Ice constitutes physically, but not legally, a separate element of polar regions, alongside with land, water and air. Lack of clear legal regulations in this respect compells the practitioners to apply often inadequate analogies. The specific status of polar permanent and floating ice calls for urgent and comprehensive legal regulation under general international law, the law of the sea and the law of polar regions, on the ground of the principle of Arctic sectors in the Northern Hemisphere and the Antarctic Treaty System in the Southern Hemisphere, with reference to the relatively rich legal doctrine, discussed in detail below.
In contrast to Antarctica, the Arctic was for a long time deprived of an adequate system of multilateral international scientific cooperation. That gap was filled in 1990 by the foundation of a non-governmental International Arctic Science Committee (IASC). In this article, the origin, structure, operation and perspectives of that Committee are presented.