Antarctic Treaty System

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. It was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War, setting aside the continent as a scientific preserve, establishing freedom of scientific investigation, and banning military activity; for the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude. Since September 2004, the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat, which implements the treaty system, is headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina.[3]

Antarctic Treaty System
The Antarctic Treaty
French: Traité sur l'Antarctique
Russian: Договор об Антарктике
Spanish: Tratado Antártico
TypeCondominium
SignedDecember 1, 1959[1]
LocationWashington, D.C., United States
EffectiveJune 23, 1961
ConditionRatification of all 12 signatories
Signatories12[2]
Parties54[2]
DepositaryFederal government of the United States[2]
LanguagesEnglish, French, Russian, and Spanish
Full text
Antarctic Treaty at Wikisource
A satellite composite image of Antarctica

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: 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 research stations for the IGY, and the subsequent promulgation of the treaty was seen as a diplomatic expression of the operational and scientific cooperation that had been achieved. As of 2019, the treaty has 54 parties.[5]


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