Antarctic Treaty System

The Antarctic Treaty
French: Traité sur l'Antarctique
Russian: Договор об Антарктике
Spanish: Tratado Antártico
Antarctic Treaty System
TypeCondominium
SignedDecember 1, 1959[1]
LocationWashington, D.C., United States
EffectiveJune 23, 1961
ConditionRatification of all 12 signatories
Signatories12[2]
Parties53[2]
DepositaryFederal government of the United States[2]
LanguagesEnglish, French, Russian, and Spanish
Antarctic Treaty at Wikisource
A satellite composite image of Antarctica.

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 53 parties.[2] 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.[3]

The main treaty was opened for signature on December 1, 1959, and officially entered into force on June 23, 1961.[4] 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.[1] 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 Treaty

  • Article 1 – The area is 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 co-operation shall continue;
  • Article 3 – Free exchange of information and personnel in co-operation 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.

Other Languages
한국어: 남극조약
Bahasa Indonesia: Sistem Traktat Antartika
日本語: 南極条約
norsk nynorsk: Antarktistraktaten
Simple English: Antarctic Treaty System