The 39th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, set to take place in Chile from May 23 to June 1, is expected to help enhance cooperation on Antarctic affairs.
The Antarctic Treaty, which provides for the cooperative governance of Antarctica and its surrounding ocean, has set an "example of cooperation inside an area of peace," Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz said Sunday.
The meeting will gather more than 400 delegates from 53 countries. It will be the third time for Chile to host such a meeting. The country's proximity to Antarctica has made it the main entry point to the white continent.
Munoz said that in 2015, his government organized an international conference called "Our Ocean", at which it created a protected maritime area of 300,000 square km in the Pacific Ocean, including Easter Island and the Juan Fernandez archipelago.
"We hope to extend this to 1 million square km, including the entire Antarctic, making it the largest protected maritime reserve of the Americas, and helping to protect the environment," Munoz said.
The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 and took effect in 1961, establishing Antarctica as the first global space free of any military and nuclear activity, and reserving it exclusively for scientific research.
The treaty has 53 contracting parties including 29 consultative parties. According to the treaty, a contracting party is entitled to a consultative status if it has demonstrated interest in Antarctica by conducting substantial scientific research activity there.
China, as a consultative party to the treaty, built its first research base, the Great Wall station, in Antarctica in 1985 on King George island. It is now building its fifth base for year-round research.
On April 12, 277 Chinese scientists from different institutions concluded their 158-day expedition to Antarctica on the Xuelong icebreaker.