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Framework for Environmental Protection in the Antarctic Treaty System

Environmental Protection and Conservation in the Antarctic Treaty System

The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 and came into force in 1961. At this time, environmental issues were not as important as they are now. However, the Treaty went some way towards protecting the environment by banning nuclear explosions, radioactive waste disposal and the establishment of military bases. During the forty years since the Antarctic Treaty came into force, four additional conventions and protocols have been agreed by the Antarctic Treaty nations creating what is now called the Antarctic Treaty System. All of these agreements relate to the conservation of the environment, and Antarctica is now one of the best-protected areas in the world. The conventions are:

  • The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1991)
  • The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) (1982)
  • The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (CCAS) (1972)

The Antarctic Treaty has been a tremendous international success and has been signed by 46 different countries, of which 28 undertake major scientific research activities in Antarctica and so have voting status at Antarctic Treaty meetings.