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The Antarctic Treaty


Twelve nations signed the Antarctic Treaty on December 1, 1959. The Antarctic Treaty reserves all latitudes south of 60ºS for the international community to advance the sciences. The signatories envisioned a peaceful continent, where nations could collaborate to meet scientific objectives.

Outlined in the articles of the Antarctic Treaty:
1. prohibits military bases, operations, and weapons testing
2. preserves Antarctica for scientific investigation
3. grants public access to the research conducted in Antarctica
4. allows nations to retain territorial sovereignty in Antarctica
5. prohibits nuclear explosions and radioactive waste disposal
6. extends the scope of the treaty to the ice shelves and everything south of 60ºS, excluding the seas
7. allows nations to monitor one another
8. outlines conflict resolution
9. calls for future meetings to promote the objectives of the Antarctic treaty
10. ensures that nations agree to follow the principles of the treaty
11. demands a peaceful resolution for any disputes
12. requires a unanimous vote to modify and amend the treaty
13. allows new nations to join the treaty, once they’re approved by all member nations
14. archives the treaty in English, French, Russian, and Spanish


To date, 53 nations have signed the Antarctic Treaty and established 76 permanent stations (Figure 1) on the continent.