60th Anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty

Penguin Antarctic TreatyPenguins in South Georgia. Photo: Kjartan Mæstad / Institute of Marine Research

60th Anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty 

On December 1st, 2019, it is 60 years since the Antarctica Treaty was signed. This was highlighted during this year’s meeting, which took place in Prague on July 1-11, with a joint statement.

«Prague Declaration on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty».

In the declaration, the parties confirm their obligations under the Antarctic Treaty and the Environmental Protocol. The parties underline the unanimous agreement on continued peaceful cooperation and preservation of the unique natural environment in Antarctica for research and future generations.

12 countries

The international cooperation under the Antarctic Treaty has its origin in the desire to secure peace through common solutions. In 1959, 12 countries, including Norway and the other six claim holders, agreed to devote Antarctica to peace and science. Later, the protection of the environment also came as a third pillar. More than 40 states today participate in this unique international collaboration, which has kept a whole continent outside the changing business cycle of world politics for 60 years.

Serves Norwegian interests

“The Antarctic Treaty has served Norway’s interests well in 60 years. The Government is concerned with continuing the long lines in the Antarctic policy,” State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Audun Halvorsen, states.

“Our policy is based on a conscious attitude towards Norway’s interests as a claim holder combined with efforts to ensure that the international cooperation under the Antarctic Treaty is well-functioning and solid. Norway’s research efforts at [the research station] Troll, together with regular knowledge acquisition in the South Sea, form a solid basis for our policy in the south,” Halvorsen emphasizes.

Agreement on the agenda

The Antarctic Treaty meeting covers a broad thematic agenda. At this year’s meeting, the following conclusions were particularly important to Norway:

  • Agreement on limiting emissions of microplastics in Antarctica, as well as a call for increased research and monitoring of plastic there.
  • Agreement on that the serious consequences of global warming in Antarctica require action.
  • Agreement on more systematic cooperation on sea mapping of the seabed in Antarctica, as a contribution to increased ocean safety in these waters.
  • Agreement on the need for further discussions on the consequences of increasing tourism activity in Antarctica, and how this can be dealt with within the framework of international cooperation.

Antarctic Treaty

The Norwegian delegation. Photo: MFA.

The Norwegian delegation to this year’s Antarctic Treaty meeting was chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with participation from the Ministry of Climate and Environment, the Ministry of Justice, the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Norwegian Mapping Authority.

Read the Prague Declaration.

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