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Antarctic Treaty


Antarctic Treaty



The Antarctic Treaty System is the whole complex of arrangements made for the purpose of regulating relations among states in the Antarctic. At its heart is the Antarctic Treaty itself. The original Parties to the Treaty were the 12 nations active in the Antarctic during the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58. The Treaty was signed in Washington on 1 December 1959 and entered into force on 23 June 1961. The Consultative Parties comprise the original Parties and other States that have become Consultative Parties by acceding to the Treaty and demonstrating their interest in Antarctica by carrying out substantial scientific activity there.

The primary purpose of the Antarctic Treaty is to ensure "in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord." To this end it prohibits military activity, except in support of science; prohibits nuclear explosions and the disposal of nuclear waste; promotes scientific research and the exchange of data; and holds all territorial claims in abeyance. The Treaty applies to the area south of 60° South Latitude, including all ice shelves and islands.

The Treaty is augmented by Recommendations adopted at Consultative Meetings, by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid, 1991), and by two separate conventions dealing with the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (London 1972), and the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (Canberra 1980). The Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (Wellington 1988), negotiated between 1982 and 1988, will not enter into force.

The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) is now held annually. During each ATCM, there is also a meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) is an Observer at ATCMs and CEPs, and provides independent and objective scientific advice in a variety of fields, particularly on environmental and conservation matters.

For more information on the Antarctic Treaty, please visit the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat website.


Articles of the Antarctic Treaty

  • Article 1 – The area to be used for peaceful purposes only; military activity, such as weapons testing, is prohibited but military personnel and equipment may be used for scientific research or any other peaceful purpose;
  • Article 2 – Freedom of scientific investigations and cooperation shall continue;
  • Article 3 – Free exchange of information and personnel in cooperation with the United Nations and other international agencies;
  • Article 4 – The treaty does not recognize, dispute, nor establish territorial sovereignty claims; no new claims shall be asserted while the treaty is in force;
  • Article 5 – The treaty prohibits nuclear explosions or disposal of radioactive wastes;
  • Article 6 – Includes under the treaty all land and ice shelves but not the surrounding waters south of 60 degrees 00 minutes south;
  • Article 7 – Treaty-state observers have free access, including aerial observation, to any area and may inspect all stations, installations, and equipment; advance notice of all activities and of the introduction of military personnel must be given;
  • Article 8 – Allows for good jurisdiction over observers and scientists by their own states;
  • Article 9 – Frequent consultative meetings take place among member nations;
  • Article 10 – All treaty states will discourage activities by any country in Antarctica that are contrary to the treaty;
  • Article 11 – All disputes to be settled peacefully by the parties concerned or, ultimately, by the International Court of Justice;
  • Articles 12, 13, 14 – 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.



As of 2014, there are 50 states party to the treaty,[2] 29 of which, including all 12 original signatories to the treaty, have consultative (voting) status.[7] Consultative members include the seven nations that claim portions of Antarctica as national territory. The 43 non-claimant nations either do not recognize the claims of others, or have not stated their positions.

  Parties with consulting status making a claim to Antarctic territory
  Parties with consulting status reserving the right to make a territorial claim
  Other parties with consulting status
  Parties without consulting status
  Non-party UN member states

Note: The table can be sorted alphabetically or chronologically using the Sort both.gif icon.

Country[2][7][8][9] Signature Ratification/Accession Consultative status[7][9] Notes
 Argentina (claim)* 1 December 1959 June 23, 1961 June 23, 1961  
 Australia (claim) 1 December 1959 June 23, 1961 June 23, 1961  
 Austria No August 25, 1987    
 Belarus No December 27, 2006    
 Belgium 1 December 1959 July 26, 1960 June 23, 1961  
 Brazil No May 16, 1975 September 27, 1983  
 Bulgaria No September 11, 1978 June 5, 1998  
 Canada No May 4, 1988    
 Chile (claim)* 1 December 1959 June 23, 1961 June 23, 1961  
 China No June 8, 1983 October 7, 1985  
 Colombia No January 31, 1989    
 Cuba No August 16, 1984    
 Czech Republic No January 1, 1993 April 1, 2014 Succession from  Czechoslovakia, which acceded on June 14, 1962.[10]
 Denmark No May 20, 1965    
 Ecuador No September 15, 1987 November 19, 1990  
 Estonia No May 17, 2001    
 Finland No May 15, 1984 October 20, 1989  
 France (claim) 1 December 1959 September 16, 1960 June 23, 1961  
 Germany (claim) (rests since 1945) No February 5, 1979 March 3, 1981 Ratified as  West Germany.
 East Germany also acceded on November 19, 1974 and received consultative status on October 5, 1987 prior to their reunification with West Germany.[9][11]
 Greece No January 8, 1987    
 Guatemala No July 31, 1991    
 Hungary No January 27, 1984    
 India No August 19, 1983 September 12, 1983  
 Italy No March 18, 1981 October 5, 1987  
 Japan 1 December 1959 August 4, 1960 June 23, 1961  
 Malaysia No October 31, 2011    
 Monaco No May 31, 2008    
 Netherlands No March 30, 1967 November 19, 1990  
 New Zealand (claim) 1 December 1959 November 1, 1960 June 23, 1961  
 North Korea No January 21, 1987    
 Norway (claim) 1 December 1959 August 24, 1960 June 23, 1961  
 Pakistan No March 1, 2012    
 Papua New Guinea No March 16, 1981   Succession from  Australia. Effective from their independence on September 16, 1975.[12]
 Peru No April 10, 1981 October 9, 1989  
 Poland No June 8, 1961 July 29, 1977  
 Portugal No January 29, 2010    
 Romania No September 15, 1971    
 Russia** 1 December 1959 November 2, 1960 June 23, 1961 Ratified as the  Soviet Union.[13]
 Slovakia No January 1, 1993   Succession from  Czechoslovakia, which acceded on June 14, 1962.[14]
 South Africa[15] 1 December 1959 June 21, 1960 June 23, 1961  
 South Korea No November 28, 1986 October 9, 1989  
 Spain No March 31, 1982 September 21, 1988  
 Sweden No April 24, 1984 September 21, 1988  
 Switzerland No November 15, 1990    
 Turkey No January 24, 1996    
 Ukraine No October 28, 1992 June 4, 2004  
 United Kingdom (claim)* 1 December 1959 May 31, 1960 June 23, 1961  
 United States** 1 December 1959 August 18, 1960 June 23, 1961  
 Uruguay No January 11, 1980 October 7, 1985  
 Venezuela No May 24, 1999    

* Claims overlap.
** Reserved the right to claim areas.


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