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Antarctic Treaty: what it is and what it establishes

Did you know that Antarctica lacked a flag until 2002, when the members of the Antarctic Treaty established an emblem and a flag representing the entire Antarctic continent? At this meeting held on May 20, 2002, the different Contracting Parties of the famous Antarctic Treaty decided to choose the common flag for the continent, as well as to incorporate and review more measures related to said Treaty.

In this AgroCorrn article we offer information about the Antarctic Treaty: what it is and what it establishes , highlighting some of its main initiatives for preservation and cooperation in the “white continent”, including issues focused on the governance of protected areas and species, as well as in areas related to tourism and the growing impact that it unleashes on the conservation of the delicate and valuable ecosystem of Antarctica.

What is the Antarctic Treaty

The Antarctic Treaty emerged as an important project for the conservation and protection of Antarctica , turning it into a peaceful and unarmed continent, in which the exploitation of its natural resources was prohibited. This treaty was signed in Washington on December 1, 1959, although it did not enter into force until June 23, 1961.

At present, the Antarctic Treaty has the support of 50 countries , although during its establishment it was signed only by the 12 countries that had developed some type of activity on the white continent until then. These twelve countries were:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • chili
  • France
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • South Africa
  • UK
  • Ireland
  • USA
  • Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the USSR)

Thus, the Antarctic Treaty was added to the various international treaties that already existed, recognizing in it the importance of Antarctica as a continent that should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes, contributing to scientific knowledge and international cooperation, never to be a stage or object of international discord.

In the next section we will see in detail the main measures included in the valuable Antarctic Treaty.

What does the Antarctic Treaty establish

With a vision focused on political, environmental and operational aspects, the action measures established by the Antarctic Treaty are included in the following fundamental points:

  • The main objective of the Antarctic Treaty is to promote and guarantee a peaceful use of Antarctica , without militarization operations of any kind; such as conducting military maneuvers or testing with weapons.
  • The freedom of scientific research in the “white continent” and the cooperation of the Contracting Parties (States signatory to the Treaty) in this scientific field are promoted , facilitating the exchange of personnel, information and scientific results on Antarctica.
  • Nuclear explosions and the dumping of radioactive waste related to the use of nuclear energy are prohibited.
  • The participation of the Contracting Parties in consultative and special meetings, proposed with the ultimate aim of promoting and ensuring the application of the objectives and provisions of the Antarctic Treaty, is mandatory. Said Treaty conferences were held every two years, from its entry into force in 1961 until 1994, after which the frequency of the conferences is annual.
  • The representatives of each Contracting Party are assigned “observers” with the function of carrying out the different inspections proposed in the Treaty, such as the inspection of stations, facilities, equipment and vessels; as well as the different embarkation and disembarkation points for personnel and cargo in Antarctica.
  • The area of ​​application of the Treaty must ensure the protection and conservation of each and every one of the living resources that find their natural habitat in Antarctica.

In this way, the Antarctic Treaty seeks to achieve an adequate balance between the use of the white continent and its protection, thus achieving a sustainable and ecological development , promoting, in turn, the scientific and cultural progress of humanity.

The thaw of Antarctica

To finish this informative article on what the Antarctic Treaty is and what it establishes, we want to offer information about the melting of Antarctica .

Among the most current data available to the public we find that, although there is the Antarctic Treaty, what happens in the rest of the planet, of course, also affects this area. The waters of the Antarctic region have been warming for decades at a rate higher than the global average. The Southern Ocean has warmed at a rate of 0.17 ° C since the 1950s and the global average is 0.10 ° C, so the ice at the South Pole is melting faster.

To find out more about this environmental problem and the situation in Antarctica, we recommend reading these other AgroCorrn articles:

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