If a murder were committed in Antarctica and it was unclear who did it, what country/agency would investigate? And, if the guilty party were identified, who (if anyone) would have the authority to arrest them?


2 Answers 2


Various countries have jurisdiction in Antarctica, see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctic_Treaty_System#Legal_system.

The geographic limits of each country's jurisdiction are well defined. The USA has jurisdiction if no one else does.

  • 3
    Question - does your answer change if the murder weapon was an icicle?
    – jqning
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 3:59
  • 5
    @jqning no, but if wielded by a penguin ...
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 4:29
  • 3
    The USA has jurisdiction if no one else does. WOO! USA! USA! USA! ...Sorry. Instinct. Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 8:18
  • 1
    "The geographic limits of each country's jurisdiction are well defined" - but in many cases, overlap. In practise, the murder would probably be investigated by the country running the relevant base. (Which could be tricky if the murder happened half-way between Rothera [UK] and San Martin [Argentina]) Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 16:44
  • All of which begs the question of whether Antarctica - and specifically the area where the crime was committed - have any law enforcement officers. GIven that almost everyone there seems to be a scientist, I'm guessing police are few and far between or absent entirely. I suppose people that aren't police officers would be motivated to solve the crime and detain the miscreant if he/she is found, pending evacuation to the relevant country's judicial system.
    – Henry
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 3:56

In the most cases, the country of the citizenship of the victim would do the investigation. If the crime was committed on an Antarctic base running within a specific jurisdiction, such jurisdiction would be also given and investigation would be probably done by that country as well.

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