|The Antarctic Treaty|
French: Traité sur l'Antarctique
Russian: Договор об Антарктике
Spanish: Tratado Antártico
|Signed||December 1, 1959|
|Location||Washington, D.C., United States|
|Effective||June 23, 1961|
|Condition||Ratification of all 12 signatories|
|Depositary||Federal government of the United States|
|Languages||English, French, Russian, and Spanish|
|Antarctic Treaty at Wikisource|
Antarctic Treaty System
The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth's only continent without a native human population. It was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War, setting aside the continent as a scientific preserve, establishing freedom of scientific investigation, and banning military activity; for the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude. Since September 2004, the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat, which implements the treaty system, is headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
|International ownership treaties|
The main treaty was opened for signature on December 1, 1959, and officially entered into force on June 23, 1961. The original signatories were the 12 countries active in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–58: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries had established over 55 Antarctic research stations for the IGY, and the subsequent promulgation of the treaty was seen as a diplomatic expression of the operational and scientific cooperation that had been achieved. As of 2022[update], the treaty has 55 parties.
After the Second World War, the U.S. considered establishing a claim in Antarctica. From August 26, 1946, and until the beginning of 1947, it carried out Operation Highjump, the largest military expeditionary force that the United States had ever sent to Antarctica, consisting of 13 ships, 4,700 men, and numerous aerial devices. Its goals were to train military personnel and to test materiel in conditions of extreme cold for a hypothetical war in the Antarctic.
On September 2, 1947, the quadrant of Antarctica in which the United States was interested (between 24° W and 90° W) was included as part of the security zone of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, committing its members to defend it in case of external aggression.
In August 1948, the United States proposed that Antarctica be under the guardianship of the United Nations, as a trust territory administered by Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, the United States, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. This idea was rejected by Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, and Norway. Before the rejection, on August 28, 1948, the United States proposed to the claimant countries some form of internationalization of Antarctica, and this was supported by the United Kingdom. Chile responded by presenting a plan to suspend all Antarctic claims for five to ten years, while negotiating a final solution, but this did not find acceptance.
In 1950, the interest of the United States to keep the Soviet Union away from Antarctica was frustrated, when the Soviets informed the claimant states that they would not accept any Antarctic agreement in which they were not represented. The fear that the USSR would react by making a territorial claim, bringing the Cold War to Antarctica, led the United States to make none.
Various international conflicts motivated the creation of an agreement for the Antarctic.
Some incidents had occurred during the Second World War, and a new one occurred in Hope Bay on February 1, 1952, when the Argentine military fired warning shots at a group of Britons. The response of the United Kingdom was to send a warship that landed marines at the scene on February 4. In 1949, Argentina, Chile, and the United Kingdom signed a Tripartite Naval Declaration committing not to send warships south of the 60th parallel south, which was renewed annually until 1961 when it was deemed unnecessary when the treaty entered into force. This tripartite declaration was signed after the tension generated when Argentina sent a fleet of eight warships to Antarctica in February 1948.
On January 17, 1953, Argentina reopened the Lieutenant Lasala refuge on Deception Island, leaving a sergeant and a corporal in the Argentine Navy. On February 15, in the incident on Deception Island, 32 royal marines landed from the British frigate HMS Snipe armed with Sten machine guns, rifles, and tear gas capturing the two Argentine sailors. The Argentine refuge and a nearby uninhabited Chilean shelter were destroyed, and the Argentine sailors were delivered to a ship from that country on February 18 in the South Georgia Islands. A British detachment remained three months on the island while the frigate patrolled its waters until April.
On May 4, 1955, the United Kingdom filed two lawsuits, against Argentina and Chile respectively, before the International Court of Justice to declare the invalidity of the claims of the sovereignty of the two countries over Antarctic and sub-Antarctic areas. On July 15, 1955, the Chilean government rejected the jurisdiction of the court in that case, and on August 1, the Argentine government also did so, so on March 16, 1956, the claims were closed.
International Geophysical Year
In 1950, the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) had discussed the possibility of holding a third International Polar Year. At the suggestion of the World Meteorological Organization, the idea of the International Polar Year was extended to the entire planet, thus creating the International Geophysical Year that took place between July 1, 1957, and December 31, 1958. In this event, 66 countries participated. At the ICSU meeting in Stockholm from September 9 to 11, 1957, the creation of a Special Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) was approved, inviting the twelve countries conducting Antarctic investigations to send delegates to integrate the committee, with the purpose of exchanging scientific information among its members regarding Antarctica. The SCAR was later renamed to the Scientific Committee for Research in Antarctica.
Both Argentina and Chile stated that research carried out on the continent during the International Geophysical Year would not give any territorial rights to the participants, and that the facilities that were erected during that year should be dismantled at the end of it. However, in February 1958, the United States proposed that the Antarctic investigations should be extended for another year, and the Soviet Union reported that it would maintain its scientific bases until the studies being carried out had been completed.
Negotiation of the treaty
Scientific bases increased international tension concerning Antarctica. The danger of the Cold War spreading to that continent caused the President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, to convene an Antarctic Conference of the twelve countries active in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year, to sign a treaty. In the first phase, representatives of the twelve nations met in Washington, who met in sixty sessions between June 1958 and October 1959 to define a basic negotiating framework. However, no consensus was reached on a preliminary draft. In the second phase, a conference at the highest diplomatic level was held from October 15 to December 1, 1959, when the Treaty was signed. The central ideas with full acceptance were the freedom of scientific research in Antarctica and the peaceful use of the continent. There was also a consensus for demilitarization and the maintenance of the status quo.
The positions of the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand coincided in the establishment of an international administration for Antarctica, proposing that it should be within the framework of the United Nations. Australia and the United Kingdom expressed the need for inspections by observers, and the British also proposed the use of military personnel for logistical functions. Argentina proposed that all atomic explosions be banned in Antarctica, which caused a crisis that lasted until the last day of the conference, since the United States, along with other countries, intended to ban only those that were made without prior notice and without prior consultation. The support of the USSR and Chile for the Argentine proposal finally caused the United States to retract its opposition.
The signing of the treaty was the first arms control agreement that occurred in the framework of the Cold War, and the participating countries managed to avoid the internationalization of Antarctic sovereignty.
Other agreements – some 200 recommendations adopted at treaty consultative meetings and ratified by governments – include:
- Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora (1964) (entered into force in 1982)
- The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (1972)
- The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1982)
- The Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (1988) (signed in 1988, not in force)
- The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed October 4, 1991, and entered into force January 14, 1998; this agreement prevents development and provides for the protection of the Antarctic environment through five specific annexes on marine pollution, fauna and flora, environmental impact assessments, waste management, and protected areas. It prohibits all activities relating to mineral resources except scientific. A sixth annex on liability arising from environmental emergencies was adopted in 2005, but is yet to enter into force.
- Exchange of Notes constituting an Agreement between the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Government of the French Republic, regarding Aerial Navigation in the Antarctic (Paris, October 25, 1938)
- Treaty Between the Government of Australia and the Government of the French Republic on Cooperation in the Maritime Areas Adjacent to the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF), Heard Island and the McDonald Islands (Canberra, November 24, 2003)
- Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement of Fisheries Laws between the Government of Australia and the Government of the French Republic in the Maritime Areas Adjacent to the French Southern and Antarctic Territories, Heard Island and the McDonald Islands (Paris, January 8, 2007)
The Antarctic Treaty System's yearly Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM) are the international forum for the administration and management of the region. Only 29 of the 55 parties to the agreements have the right to participate in decision-making at these meetings, though the other 26 are still allowed to attend. The decision-making participants are the Consultative Parties and, in addition to the 12 original signatories, including 17 countries that have demonstrated their interest in Antarctica by carrying out substantial scientific activity there. The Antarctic Treaty also has Special Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (SATCM), which are generally summoned to treat more important topics but are less frequents and Meetings of Experts.
As of 2022, there are 55 states party to the treaty, 29 of which, including all 12 original signatories to the treaty, have consultative (voting) status. The consultative members include the 7 countries that claim portions of Antarctica as their territory. The 48 non-claimant countries do not recognize the claims of others. 40 parties to the Antarctic Treaty have also ratified the "Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty".
|Argentina (claim)*||Dec 1, 1959||Jun 23, 1961||Jun 23, 1961|
|Australia (claim)||Dec 1, 1959||Jun 23, 1961||Jun 23, 1961|
|Austria||No||Aug 25, 1987||No|
|Belarus||No||Dec 27, 2006||No|
|Belgium||Dec 1, 1959||Jul 26, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|Brazil (unofficial claim)||No||May 16, 1975||Sep 27, 1983|
|Bulgaria||No||Sep 11, 1978||Jun 5, 1998|
|Canada||No||May 4, 1988||No|
|Chile (claim)*||Dec 1, 1959||Jun 23, 1961||Jun 23, 1961|
|China||No||Jun 8, 1983||Oct 7, 1985|
|Colombia||No||Jan 31, 1989||No|
|Costa Rica||No||Aug 11, 2022||No|
|Cuba||No||Aug 16, 1984||No|
|Czech Republic||No||Jan 1, 1993||Apr 1, 2014||Succession from Czechoslovakia, which acceded on June 14, 1962.|
|Denmark||No||May 20, 1965||No|
|Ecuador||No||Sep 15, 1987||Nov 19, 1990|
|Estonia||No||May 17, 2001||No|
|Finland||No||May 15, 1984||Oct 20, 1989|
|France (claim)||Dec 1, 1959||Sep 16, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|Germany (historical claim)||No||Feb 5, 1979||Mar 3, 1981||Ratified as West Germany.|
|Greece||No||Jan 8, 1987||No|
|Guatemala||No||Jul 31, 1991||No|
|Hungary||No||Jan 27, 1984||No|
|Iceland||No||Oct 13, 2015||No|
|India||No||Aug 19, 1983||Sep 12, 1983|
|Italy||No||Mar 18, 1981||Oct 5, 1987|
|Japan (historical claim)||Dec 1, 1959||Aug 4, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|Kazakhstan||No||Jan 27, 2015||No|
|Malaysia||No||Oct 31, 2011||No|
|Monaco||No||May 31, 2008||No|
|Mongolia||No||Mar 23, 2015||No|
|Netherlands||No||Mar 30, 1967||Nov 19, 1990|
|New Zealand (claim)||Dec 1, 1959||Nov 1, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|North Korea||No||Jan 21, 1987||No|
|Norway (claim)||Dec 1, 1959||Aug 24, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|Pakistan||No||Mar 1, 2012||No|
|Papua New Guinea||No||Mar 16, 1981||No||Succession from Australia. Effective from their independence on September 16, 1975.|
|Peru||No||Apr 10, 1981||Oct 9, 1989|
|Poland||No||Jun 8, 1961||Jul 29, 1977|
|Portugal||No||Jan 29, 2010||No|
|Romania||No||Sep 15, 1971||No|
|Russia†||Dec 1, 1959||Nov 2, 1960||Jun 23, 1961||Ratified as the Soviet Union.|
|Slovakia||No||Jan 1, 1993||No||Succession from Czechoslovakia, which acceded on June 14, 1962.|
|Slovenia||No||Apr 22, 2019||No|
|South Africa||Dec 1, 1959||Jun 21, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|South Korea||No||Nov 28, 1986||Oct 9, 1989|
|Spain||No||Mar 31, 1982||Sep 21, 1988|
|Sweden||No||Apr 24, 1984||Sep 21, 1988|
|Switzerland||No||Nov 15, 1990||No|
|Turkey||No||Jan 24, 1996||No|
|Ukraine||No||Oct 28, 1992||Jun 4, 2004|
|United Kingdom (claim)*||Dec 1, 1959||May 31, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|United States†||Dec 1, 1959||Aug 18, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|Uruguay||No||Jan 11, 1980||Oct 7, 1985|
|Venezuela||No||May 24, 1999||No|
* Has an overlapping claim with another one or two claimants.
† Reserved the right to make a claim.
Antarctic Treaty Secretariat
The Antarctic Treaty Secretariat was established in Buenos Aires, Argentina in September 2004 by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM). Jan Huber (the Netherlands) served as the first Executive Secretary for five years until August 31, 2009. He was succeeded on September 1, 2009, by Manfred Reinke (Germany). Reinke was succeeded by Albert Lluberas (Uruguay), who was elected in June 2017 at the 40th Antarctic Consultative Treaty Meeting in Beijing, China.
The tasks of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat can be divided into the following areas:
- Supporting the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) and the meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP).
- Facilitating the exchange of information between the Parties required in the Treaty and the Environment Protocol.
- Collecting, storing, arranging and publishing the documents of the ATCM.
- Providing and disseminating public information about the Antarctic Treaty system and Antarctic activities.
Antarctica currently has no permanent population and therefore it has no citizenship nor government. Personnel present on Antarctica at any time are always citizens or nationals of some sovereignty outside Antarctica, as there is no Antarctic sovereignty. The majority of Antarctica is claimed by one or more countries, but most countries do not explicitly recognize those claims. The area on the mainland between 90 degrees west and 150 degrees west is the only major land on Earth not claimed by any country. Until 2015 the interior of the Norwegian Sector, the extent of which had never been officially defined, was considered to be unclaimed. That year, Norway formally laid claim to the area between its Queen Maud Land and the South Pole.
Governments that are party to the Antarctic Treaty and its Protocol on Environmental Protection implement the articles of these agreements, and decisions taken under them, through national laws. These laws generally apply only to their own citizens, wherever they are in Antarctica, and serve to enforce the consensus decisions of the consultative parties: about which activities are acceptable, which areas require permits to enter, what processes of environmental impact assessment must precede activities, and so on. The Antarctic Treaty is often considered to represent an example of the common heritage of mankind principle.
Since the designation of the Australian Antarctic Territory pre-dated the signing of the Antarctic Treaty, Australian laws that relate to Antarctica date from more than two decades before the Antarctic Treaty era. In terms of criminal law, the laws that apply to the Jervis Bay Territory (which follows the laws of the Australian Capital Territory) apply to the Australian Antarctic Territory. Key Australian legislation applying Antarctic Treaty System decisions include the Antarctic Treaty Act 1960, the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980 and the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Conservation Act 1981.
The law of the United States, including certain criminal offences by or against U.S. nationals, such as murder, may apply to areas not under jurisdiction of other countries. To this end, the United States now stations special deputy U.S. Marshals in Antarctica to provide a law enforcement presence.
Some U.S. laws directly apply to Antarctica. For example, the Antarctic Conservation Act, Public Law 95-541, 16 U.S.C. § 2401 et seq., provides civil and criminal penalties for the following activities, unless authorized by regulation or statute:
- the taking of native Antarctic mammals or birds
- the introduction into Antarctica of non-indigenous plants and animals
- entry into specially protected or scientific areas
- the discharge or disposal of pollutants into Antarctica or Antarctic waters
- the importation into the U.S. of certain items from Antarctica
Violation of the Antarctic Conservation Act carries penalties of up to US$10,000 in fines and one year in prison. The Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, Transportation, and the Interior share enforcement responsibilities. The Act requires expeditions from the U.S. to Antarctica to notify, in advance, the Office of Oceans and Polar Affairs of the State Department, which reports such plans to other nations as required by the Antarctic Treaty. Further information is provided by the Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation.
In 2006, the New Zealand police reported that jurisdictional issues prevented them issuing warrants for potential American witnesses who were reluctant to testify during the Christchurch Coroner's investigation into the death by poisoning of Australian astrophysicist Rodney Marks at the South Pole base in May 2000. Dr. Marks died while wintering over at the United States' Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station located at the geographic South Pole. Prior to autopsy, the death was attributed to natural causes by the National Science Foundation and the contractor administering the base. However, an autopsy in New Zealand revealed that Dr. Marks died from methanol poisoning. The New Zealand Police launched an investigation. In 2006, frustrated by lack of progress, the Christchurch Coroner said that it was unlikely that Dr. Marks ingested the methanol knowingly, although there is no certainty that he died as the direct result of the act of another person. During media interviews, the police detective in charge of the investigation criticized the National Science Foundation and contractor Raytheon for failing to co-operate with the investigation.
Under the South African Citizens in Antarctica Act, 1962, South African law applies to all South African citizens in Antarctica, and they are subject to the jurisdiction of the magistrate's court in Cape Town. The Antarctic Treaties Act, 1996 incorporates the Antarctic Treaty and related agreements into South African law. In regard to violations of these treaties, South Africa also asserts jurisdiction over South African residents and members of expeditions organised in South Africa.
- Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC)
- Antarctic Protected Areas
- Antarctic Treaty issue
- Arctic Council
- Arctic sanctuary
- Crime in Antarctica
- Endurance – lost ship of Ernest Shackleton, found in 2022 and protected by the treaty
- International Seabed Authority
- Montreal Protocol
- Moon treaty
- Multilateral treaty
- National Antarctic Program
- Category: Outposts of Antarctica
- Research stations in Antarctica
- Solar radiation management
- Svalbard Treaty
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…formålet med anneksjonen var å legge under seg det landet som til nå ligger herreløst og som ingen andre enn nordmenn har kartlagt og gransket. Norske myndigheter har derfor ikke motsatt seg at noen tolker det norske kravet slik at det går helt opp til og inkluderer polpunktet.
- Jennifer Frakes, The Common Heritage of Mankind Principle and the Deep Seabed, Outer Space, and Antarctica: Will Developed and Developing Nations Reach a Compromise? Wisconsin International Law Journal. 2003; 21:409
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- Antarctic Treaty Secretariat
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- Emblem of the Antarctic Treaty