Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty

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The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, also known as the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, or the Madrid Protocol, is part of the Antarctic Treaty System. It provides for comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems.

The dumping of waste at Bellingshausen, a Russian Base on King George Island, demonstrated the need for environmental regulation in Antarctica

It was concluded in Madrid and opened for signature on October 4, 1991, and entered into force on January 14, 1998. The treaty will be open for review in 2048.

Key provisions of the Treaty[edit]

  • Article 3 states that protection of the Antarctic environment as a wilderness with aesthetic and scientific value shall be a "fundamental consideration" of activities in the area.
  • Article 7 states that "Any activity relating to mineral resources, other than scientific research, shall be prohibited." This provision contrasts with the rejected Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities, which would have allowed mining under the control and taxation of an international managing body similar to the International Seabed Authority.
  • Article 8 requires environmental assessment for all activities, including tourism.
  • Article 11 creates a Committee for Environmental Protection for the continent.
  • Article 15 calls for member states to be prepared for emergency response actions in the area.
  • Articles 18-20 arrange for arbitration of international disputes regarding Antarctica.
  • Article 25(5) states that the Article 7 ban on mining may not be repealed unless a future treaty establishes a binding regulatory framework for such activity.

State parties[edit]

As of May 2013, the protocol has been ratified by 34 parties — Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, the People's Republic of China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Uruguay.[1]

A further 11 states — Austria, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Guatemala, Hungary, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Turkey — have signed but not yet ratified it.


The treaty followed a lengthy campaign by Greenpeace, including the construction of an Antarctic base from 1987 to 1991.[2][3] Greenpeace claims the protocol as a victory.[4]


Madrid Dome in Aristotle Mountains, Antarctica is named in connection with the Protocol.[5]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA document: "World Factbook" (2022 ed.). (Archived 2003 edition)

  1. ^ "Adopted by SATCM XI-4 (Madrid, 1991)". Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  2. ^ Donald, Rothwell. "The Antarctic Treaty System: Resource Development, Environmental Protection or Disintegration?" (PDF). 1990. The Arctic Journal. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  3. ^ Fogg, Gordon (24 September 1992). A history of Antarctic science. Studies in Polar Research 1992. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521361132. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  4. ^ "1991 - International Treaty saves the Antarctic from deadly threat". 2011. Greenpeace International. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  5. ^ Madrid Dome. SCAR Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica

External links[edit]