top of page


Signing of the Antarctic Treaty

on December 1st 1959.

Photo Credit: ATS Image Bank, accessed December 9, 2023

On December 1, 1959, a significant milestone was achieved when twelve countries actively engaged in scientific programs in Antarctica came together to sign the Antarctic Treaty. These nations included Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The treaty officially took effect on June 23, 1961, following its ratification by all twelve signatory nations. 


Since its inception, the Antarctic Treaty has garnered extensive international support, reflecting its vital importance. At present, the treaty boasts an impressive association of 56 countries, which includes the original signatories. These nations represent a diverse array of countries from all over the world, highlighting the global commitment to upholding the principles outlined in this historic agreement. 


The Antarctic Treaty consists of 14 articles that establish a framework for the governance of Antarctica.  The articles are summaried below.


Article 1: - Antarctica is to be used for peaceful purposes only.

Article 2: - Freedom of scientific investigation and cooperation shall be promoted.

Article 3: - The treaty does not recognize, dispute, or establish territorial claims.

Article 4: - Nuclear testing and disposal of radioactive waste are prohibited.

Article 5: - The treaty prohibits military activities, except for scientific research.

Article 6: - The treaty applies to all areas south of 60 degrees South latitude.

Article 7: - Parties to the treaty must exchange information and provide access to their scientific observations and results.

Article 8: - Parties must give advance notice of their expeditions to Antarctica.

Article 9: - Parties must cooperate in the event of accidents or other emergencies.

Article 10: - Parties must facilitate visits by observers from other countries.

Article 11: - The treaty does not affect the rights of any party to make claims of sovereignty.

Article 12: - Disputes are to be resolved peacefully through consultation or negotiation.

Article 13: - The treaty can be reviewed at any time by the parties.

Article 14: - The treaty is open for accession by any state that agrees to abide by its provisions.

The Antarctic Treaty stands as a testament to international cooperation and the commitment to preserve Antarctica as a peaceful and scientific haven. With the participation of numerous countries, the treaty has successfully fostered scientific research, environmental protection, and the peaceful use of Antarctica. As the number of countries associated with the treaty continues to grow, the global community reaffirms its dedication to the principles outlined in this historic agreement. 

bottom of page