Antarctic Treaty System
Represents the basis for preserving the Antarctic. The System reflects the shared desire to exclusively use the Antarctic for peaceful purposes for all time.
The international framework for the exploration of the Antarctic was signed by 12 founding states on 1 December 1959 and entered into force on 23 June 1961. Full members must operate a research station in the Antarctic, manned year-round; there are also non-voting members. The number of signatories has since grown to 54, including 29 states with “consultative” (voting) status.
By signing the Antarctic Treaty, the member states agreed e.g. to:
- exclusively use the Antarctic for peaceful purposes and place a ban on military activities
- the freedom of scientific research and international collaboration, including the free exchange of information
- revoke the territorial claims made by certain countries and place a ban on new claims
- the removal of radioactive waste in the Antarctic.
At annual conferences, the Treaty’s principles and objectives are reviewed, revised and supplemented on the basis of consensus. The Antarctic Treaty itself remains in force indefinitely. Even if certain subsequent agreements may be subject to new negotiations after a time, the Antarctic Treaty cannot expire. The signatories have agreed to preserve the Antarctic, and to exclusively use the area south of the 60° S parallel for peaceful purposes, in perpetuity.