The Antarctic Treaty was introduced on the 23rd of June, 1961 when 12 nations signed up. It formalised and guaranteed free access and research rights so that all countries could work together for the common causes of scientific research and exchange of ideas.


– Antarctica should be used for peaceful purposes only, prohibiting activities of a military nature: demilitarise the area and establish it as a zone free of nuclear tests and the disposal of radioactive waste.
– To promote international scientific co-operation in Antarctica
– To set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty (the right to excise powers in the boundaries of its territory)
– The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection requires that comprehensive assessment and monitoring should be carried out to minimise human impacts on the fragile ecosystems. This protocol also bans all mineral resource activity in Antarctica, including the exploration of the continental shelf.

– The treaty now has 46 signatures, comprising of about 80% of the world
– The treaty is short with only 14 separate articles, meaning it is easy to comprehend and despite its short nature it has proved adaptable in terms of keeping up with developing environmental concerns.
– Easy to understand – prohibitions on mining, nuclear testing and military forces are clear
– The annual decision-making body is a consensus organisation, meaning all of the 29 Consultative (voting) members have a veto over any changes they don’t support.


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