Policy | VOL. 10, ISSUE 63, November-December 2010

Governing Antarctic: 1959 Antarctic Treaty: The legacy and the challenges

In the aftermath of the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957-8, 12 participants led by the United States negotiated a treaty, which transformed the legal, political and scientific status of the frozen continent and surrounding Southern Ocean. Signed on 1st December 1959, the Treaty declared that “in the interests of all mankind”, Antarctic would be demilitarised and denuclearised. The disposal of radioactive materials was also prohibited. Science lay at the heart of the Treaty’s ethos regarding peaceful coexistence and the free exchange of information. A great deal has changed since then. The Antarctic is no longer politically remote and scientists, fishing personnel and tourists have all travelled to the continent and surrounding ocean. The globalization of Antarctic has brought to the fore a host of issues that in the longer term, will test the veracity of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) and its capacity to secure not only a regional model of governance but also to retain legitimacy beyond the membership.  Historical Context By the time the 12 parties gathered around the negotiating table in October 1959, seven claims to the polar continent had been pressed. Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom made up the claimant States. Most problematically, Argentina, Chile and the United Kingdom all claim the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding islands. Five other IGY polar participants joined the...

To purchase this article, kindly sign in

Comments are closed.