Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

The Antarctic Treaty

Map of Antarctica showing territorial claims.

Map of Antarctica showing territorial claims.

No country owns Antarctica, although seven nations (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the UK) have claimed portions of it.

Fifty nations have signed the Antarctic Treaty. The main points are:

  • All territorial claims are to be set aside. No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting , supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica.
  • Antarctica is to be used for peaceful purposes only
  • All scientific information is to be shared
  • All vessels and scientific stations are to be open for inspection at all times
  • Nuclear explosions and the disposal of nuclear waste are prohibited.

In 1991 thirty-five treaty signatories agreed on a protocol for environmental protection which included:

  • Environmental assessments being carried out before any human activity begins
  • Pollution and waste disposal regulations
  • Wildlife conservation regulations
  • A ban on mineral exploration.