Antarctic Treaty

Antarctica day: Antarctic Treaty

Map of Antarctica with the flags of the Antarctic Treaty nations. Photo from: https://www.bas.ac.uk

The Antarctic treaty is an international agreement that sets aside the entire Antarctica continent as a scientific preserve devoted to peace and science “forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes in the interest of mankind”. The treaty ensured freedom of scientific investigation and ban of military activities on the continent. It was the first nuclear-arms agreement and the first institution to govern all human activities in an international region with no sovereign jurisdiction. The treaty remains a unique and inspiring example of international collaboration and implementation of the common heritage of mankind principle. 

Signed on December 1, 1959 in Washington, D.C., United States it came into force in 1961 and currently has 54 member parties 29 of which, including all 12 original signatories to the treaty, have voting status (the latest status list as of April 2019 is available via the link). The twelve countries that were the original signatories are: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All member parties implement the articles of the Treaty through their national laws. The Antarctic Treaty System holds yearly Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM) and has an Antarctic Treaty Secretariat that facilitates and supports the ATCMs.

The treaty consists of 14 Articles and is available in English; French; Russian and Spanish.

Read more about the Treaty on the website of the British Antarctic Survey: https://www.bas.ac.uk/about/antarctica/the-antarctic-treaty/  

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