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. For the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude. The treaty entered into force in 1961 and currently has 54 parties. The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, and bans military activity on the continent. The treaty was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War. Since September 2004, the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat headquarters has been located in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
|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|
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. The twelve countries that had significant interests in Antarctica at the time were: 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 stations for the IGY. The treaty was a diplomatic expression of the operational and scientific co-operation that had been achieved "on the ice".
Articles of the Antarctic TreatyEdit
- Article I
1. Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. There shall be prohibited, inter alia, any measures of a military nature, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military maneuvers, as well as the testing of any type of weapons.
2. The present treaty shall not prevent the use of military personnel or equipment for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes.
- Article II
Freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation toward that end, as applied during the International Geophysical Year, shall continue, subject to the provisions of the present treaty.
- Article III
1. In order to promote international cooperation in scientific investigation in Antarctica, as provided for in Article II of the present treaty, the Contracting Parties agree that, to the greatest extent feasible and practicable:
(a) information regarding plans for scientific programs in Antarctica shall be exchanged to permit maximum economy and efficiency of operations;
(b) scientific personnel shall be exchanged in Antarctica between expeditions and stations;
(c) scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available.
2. In implementing this Article, every encouragement shall be given to the establishment of cooperative working relations with those Specialized Agencies of the United Nations and other international organizations having a scientific or technical interest in Antarctica.
- Article IV
1. Nothing contained in the present treaty shall be interpreted as:
(a) a renunciation by any Contracting Party of previously asserted rights of or claims to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica;
(b) a renunciation or diminution by any Contracting Party of any basis of claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica which it may have whether as a result of its activities or those of its nationals in Antarctica, or otherwise;
(c) prejudicing the position of any Contracting Party as regards its recognition or non-recognition of any other States right of or claim or basis of claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica.
2. No acts or activities taking place while the present treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica. No new claim, or enlargement of an existing claim, to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica shall be asserted while the present treaty is in force.
- Article V
1. Any nuclear explosions in Antarctica and the disposal there of radioactive waste material shall be prohibited.
2. In the event of the conclusion of international agreements concerning the use of nuclear energy, including nuclear explosions and the disposal of radioactive waste material, to which all of the Contracting Parties whose representatives are entitled to participate in the meetings provided for under Article IX are parties, the rules established under such agreements shall apply in Antarctica.
- Article VI
The provisions of the present treaty shall apply to the area south of 60 degree South Latitude, including all ice shelves, but nothing in the present treaty shall prejudice or in any way affect the rights, or the exercise of the rights, of any State under international law with regard to the high seas within that area.
- Article VII
1. In order to promote the objectives and ensure the observance of the provisions of the present treaty, each Contracting Party whose representatives are entitled to participate in the meetings referred to in Article IX of the treaty shall have the right to designate observers to carry out any inspection provided for by the present Article. Observers shall be nationals of the Contracting Parties which designate them. The names of observers shall be communicated to every other Contracting Party having the right to designate observers, and like notice shall be given of the termination of their appointment.
2. Each observer designated in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article shall have complete freedom of access at any time to any or all areas of Antarctica.
3. All areas of Antarctica, including all stations, installations and equipment within those areas, and all ships and aircraft at points of discharging or embarking cargoes or personnel in Antarctica, shall be open at all times to inspection by any observers designated in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article.
4. Aerial observation may be carried out at any time over any or all areas of Antarctica by any of the Contracting Parties having the right to designate observers.
5. Each Contracting Party shall, at the time when the present treaty enters into force for it, inform the other Contracting Parties, and thereafter shall give them notice in advance, of
(a) all expeditions to and within Antarctica, on the part of its ships or nationals, and all expeditions to Antarctica organized in or proceeding from its territory;
(b) all stations in Antarctica occupied by its nationals; and
(c) any military personnel or equipment intended to be introduced by it into Antarctica subject to the conditions prescribed in paragraph 2 of Article I of the present treaty.
- Article VIII
1. In order to facilitate the exercise of their functions under the present treaty, and without prejudice to the respective positions of the Contracting Parties relating to jurisdiction over all other persons in Antarctica, observers designated under paragraph 1 of Article VII and scientific personnel exchanged under subparagraph 1(b) of Article III of the treaty, and members of the staffs accompanying any such persons, shall be subject only to the jurisdiction of the Contracting Party of which they are nationals in respect of all acts or omissions occurring while they are in Antarctica for the purpose of exercising their functions.
2. Without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article, and pending the adoption of measures in pursuance of subparagraph 1(e) of Article IX, the Contracting Parties concerned in any case of dispute with regard to the exercise of jurisdiction in Antarctica shall immediately consult together with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable solution.
- Article IX
1. Representatives of the Contracting Parties named in the preamble to the present treaty shall meet at the City of Canberra within two months after the date of entry into force of the treaty, and thereafter at suitable intervals and places, for the purpose of exchanging information, consulting together on matters of common interest pertaining to Antarctica, and formulating and considering, and recommending to their Governments, measures in furtherance of the principles and objectives of the treaty, including measures regarding:
(a) use of Antarctica for peaceful purposes only;
(b) facilitation of scientific research in Antarctica;
(c) facilitation of international scientific cooperation in Antarctica;
(d) facilitation of the exercise of the rights of inspection provided for in Article VII of the treaty;
(e) questions relating to the exercise of jurisdiction in Antarctica;
(f) preservation and conservation of living resources in Antarctica.
2. Each Contracting Party which has become a party to the present treaty by accession under Article XIII shall be entitled to appoint representatives to participate in the meetings referred to in paragraph 1 of the present Article, during such time as that Contracting Party demonstrates its interest in Antarctica by conducting substantial scientific research activity there, such as the establishment of a scientific station or the despatch of a scientific expedition.
3. Reports from the observers referred to in Article VII of the present treaty shall be transmitted to the representatives of the Contracting Parties participating in the meetings referred to in paragraph 1 of the present Article.
4. The measures referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article shall become effective when approved by all the Contracting Parties whose representatives were entitled to participate in the meetings held to consider those measures.
5. Any or all of the rights established in the present treaty may be exercised from the date of entry into force of the treaty whether or not any measures facilitating the exercise of such rights have been proposed, considered or approved as provided in this Article.
- Article X
Each of the Contracting Parties undertakes to exert appropriate efforts, consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, to the end that no one engages in any activity in Antarctica contrary to the principles or purposes of the present treaty.
- Article XI
1. If any dispute arises between two or more of the Contracting Parties concerning the interpretation or application of the present treaty, those Contracting Parties shall consult among themselves with a view to having the dispute resolved by negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement or other peaceful means of their own choice.
2. Any dispute of this character not so resolved shall, with the consent, in each case, of all parties to the dispute, be referred to the International Court of Justice for settlement; but failure to reach agreement on reference to the International Court shall not absolve parties to the dispute from the responsibility of continuing to seek to resolve it by any of the various peaceful means referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article.
- Articles XII, XIII, XIV – Deal with upholding, interpreting, and amending the treaty among involved nations.
The main objective of the ATS is to ensure in the interests of all humankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord. Pursuant to Article 1, the treaty forbids any measures of a military nature, but not the presence of military personnel or equipment for the purposes of scientific research.
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, 25 October 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, 24 November 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, 8 January 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 54 parties to the agreements have the right to participate in decision-making at these meetings, though the other 25 are still allowed to attend. The decision-making participants are the Consultative Parties and, in addition to the 12 original signatories, include 17 countries that have demonstrated their interest in Antarctica by carrying out substantial scientific activity there.
As of 2019, there are 54 states party to the treaty, 29 of which, including all 12 original signatories to the treaty, have consultative (voting) status. Consultative members include the seven nations that claim portions of Antarctica as national territory. The 46 non-claimant nations either do not recognize the claims of others, or have not stated their positions. 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|
|Belarus||No||Dec 27, 2006|
|Belgium||Dec 1, 1959||Jul 26, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|Brazil||No||May 16, 1975||Sep 27, 1983|
|Bulgaria||No||Sep 11, 1978||Jun 5, 1998|
|Canada||No||May 4, 1988|
|Chile (claim)*||Dec 1, 1959||Jun 23, 1961||Jun 23, 1961|
|China||No||Jun 8, 1983||Oct 7, 1985|
|Colombia||No||Jan 31, 1989|
|Cuba||No||Aug 16, 1984|
|Czech Republic||No||Jan 1, 1993||Apr 1, 2014||Succession from Czechoslovakia, which acceded on June 14, 1962.|
|Denmark||No||May 20, 1965|
|Ecuador||No||Sep 15, 1987||Nov 19, 1990|
|Estonia||No||May 17, 2001|
|Finland||No||May 15, 1984||Oct 20, 1989|
|France (claim)||Dec 1, 1959||Sep 16, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|Germany (not formally claimed)||No||Feb 5, 1979||Mar 3, 1981||Ratified as West Germany.|
|Greece||No||Jan 8, 1987|
|Guatemala||No||Jul 31, 1991|
|Hungary||No||Jan 27, 1984|
|Iceland||No||Oct 13, 2015|
|India||No||Aug 19, 1983||Sep 12, 1983|
|Italy||No||Mar 18, 1981||Oct 5, 1987|
|Japan (not formally claimed)||Dec 1, 1959||Aug 4, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|Kazakhstan||No||Jan 27, 2015|
|Malaysia||No||Oct 31, 2011|
|Monaco||No||May 31, 2008|
|Mongolia||No||Mar 23, 2015|
|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|
|Norway (claim)||Dec 1, 1959||Aug 24, 1960||Jun 23, 1961|
|Pakistan||No||Mar 1, 2012|
|Papua New Guinea||No||Mar 16, 1981||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|
|Romania||No||Sep 15, 1971|
|Russia**||Dec 1, 1959||Nov 2, 1960||Jun 23, 1961||Ratified as the Soviet Union.|
|Slovakia||No||January 1, 1993||Succession from Czechoslovakia, which acceded on June 14, 1962.|
|Slovenia||No||April 22, 2019|
|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|
|Turkey||No||Jan 24, 1996|
|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|
* Claims overlap.
** Reserved the right to claim areas.
Antarctic Treaty SecretariatEdit
The Antarctic Treaty Secretariat was established in Buenos Aires, Argentina in September 2004 by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM). Jan Huber (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).
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. All personnel present on Antarctica at any time are 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.
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. In regard to violations of the Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, South Africa also asserts jurisdiction over South African residents and members of expeditions organised in South Africa.
- "Antarctic Treaty" in The New Encyclopædia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 15th edn., 1992, Vol. 1, p. 439.
- "Antarctic Treaty". United States Department of State. April 22, 2019. Retrieved June 30, 2019.
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- "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, 24 November 2003) – ATS 6 of 2005”. Australasian Legal Information Institute, Australian Treaties Library. Retrieved on 18 April 2017.
- "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, 8 January 2007) – ATS 1 of 2011”. Australasian Legal Information Institute, Australian Treaties Library. Retrieved on 18 April 2017.
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- "Dronning Maud Land". Norwegian Polar Institute. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
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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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- Section 2 of the South African Citizens in Antarctica Act, No. 55 of 1962, as amended by the Environmental Laws Rationalisation Act, No. 51 of 1997.
- Antarctic Treaties Act, No. 60 of 1996.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Antarctic Treaty Secretariat
- Full Text of the Antarctic Treaty
- Original facsimile of Antarctic Treaty
- Australian Antarctic Territory
- National Science Foundation – Office of Polar Programs
- List of all Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings
- An Antarctic Solution for the Koreas San Diego Union-Tribune, August 25, 2005 (Both South Korea and North Korea are members of the Antarctic Treaty)
- Emblem of the Antarctic Treaty