The Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears was signed by the Governments of Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America, i.e., by the five nations with the largest polar bear populations. Concluded in 1973, the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears and their Habitat (ACPB) was primarily developed as a response to commercial over-hunting of bears in some polar bear states, in particular, the United States (Alaska) and Norway (Svalbard)(1). The ACPB principally sought to address this problem by banning hunting (Article 1(1)) and, in particular, banning hunting using large motorized vessels and aircraft (Art. IV). Under the Agreement, harvesting may still occur for scientific purposes, conservation purposes and in connection with the management of other species (Art. III(1)). In addition, and most importantly, the ACPB contemplated the continuation of harvesting by indigenous peoples where this was already occurring (Alaska, Russia, Canada and Greenland). [Nigel Bankes, Polar Bears and International Law, in Natalia Loukacheva (ed.) Polar Law Textbook II]. The treaty is also often considered as an early proof of Arctic cooperation, as back at the time (1973), due to the Cold War, the US and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had little if any exchanges. However, they both signed the Agreement.



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