Antarctica Government

Antarctica Government: A summary of information about Antarctica Government, from government research data as well as independent research and other sources.

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Antarctica: Government

Country name
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Antarctica
Data code
AY
Government type
Antarctic Treaty Summary - the Antarctic Treaty,
signed on 1 December 1959 and entered into force on 23 June 1961,
establishes the legal framework for the management of Antarctica.
Administration is carried out through consultative member meetings -
the 23rd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting was in Peru in May
1999. At the end of 1999, there were 44 treaty member nations: 27
consultative and 17 acceding. Consultative (voting) members include
the seven nations that claim portions of Antarctica as national
territory (some claims overlap) and 20 nonclaimant nations. The US and
some other nations that have made no claims have reserved the right to
do so. The US does not recognize the claims of others. The year in
parentheses indicates when an acceding nation was voted to full
consultative (voting) status, while no date indicates the country was
an original 1959 treaty signatory. Claimant nations are - Argentina,
Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the UK. Nonclaimant
consultative nations are - Belgium, Brazil (1983), Bulgaria (1998)
China (1985), Ecuador (1990), Finland (1989), Germany (1981), India
(1983), Italy (1987), Japan, South Korea (1989), Netherlands (1990),
Peru (1989), Poland (1977), Russia, South Africa, Spain (1988), Sweden
(1988), Uruguay (1985), and the US. Acceding (nonvoting) members, with
year of accession in parentheses, are - Austria (1987), Canada (1988),
Colombia (1988), Cuba (1984), Czech Republic (1993), Denmark (1965),
Greece (1987), Guatemala (1991), Hungary (1984), North Korea (1987),
Papua New Guinea (1981), Romania (1971), Slovakia (1993), Switzerland
(1990), Turkey (1995), Ukraine (1992), and Venezuela (1999). Article 1
- area to be used for peaceful purposes only; military activity, such
as weapons testing, is prohibited, but military personnel and
equipment may be used for scientific research or any other peaceful
purpose; Article 2 - freedom of scientific investigation and
cooperation shall continue; Article 3 - free exchange of information
and personnel in cooperation with the UN and other international
agencies; Article 4 - does not recognize, dispute, or establish
territorial claims and no new claims shall be asserted while the
treaty is in force; Article 5 - prohibits nuclear explosions or
disposal of radioactive wastes; Article 6 - includes under the treaty
all land and ice shelves south of 60 degrees 00 minutes south; Article
7 - treaty-state observers have free access, including aerial
observation, to any area and may inspect all stations, installations,
and equipment; advance notice of all activities and of the
introduction of military personnel must be given; Article 8 - allows
for jurisdiction over observers and scientists by their own states;
Article 9 - frequent consultative meetings take place among member
nations; Article 10 - treaty states will discourage activities by any
country in Antarctica that are contrary to the treaty; Article 11 -
disputes to be settled peacefully by the parties concerned or,
ultimately, by the ICJ; Articles 12, 13, 14 - deal with upholding,
interpreting, and amending the treaty among involved nations. Other
agreements - some 200 recommendations adopted at treaty consultative
meetings and ratified by governments include - Agreed Measures for the
Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora (1964); Convention for the
Conservation of Antarctic Seals (1972); Convention on the Conservation
of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1980); a mineral resources
agreement was signed in 1988 but was subsequently rejected; the
Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was
signed 4 October 1991 and entered into force 14 January 1998; this
agreement provides for the protection of the Antarctic environment
through five specific annexes on marine pollution, fauna, and flora,
environmental impact assessments, waste management, and protected
areas; it prohibits all activities relating to mineral resources
except scientific research.
Legal system
US law, including certain criminal offenses by or
against US nationals, such as murder, may apply to areas not under
jurisdiction of other countries. Some US laws directly apply to
Antarctica. For example, the Antarctic Conservation Act, 16 U.S.C.
section 2401 et seq., provides civil and criminal penalties for the
following activities, unless authorized by regulation of statute: the
taking of native mammals or birds; the introduction of nonindigenous
plants and animals; entry into specially protected or scientific
areas; the discharge or disposal of pollutants; and the importation
into the US of certain items from Antarctica. Violation of the
Antarctic Conservation Act carries penalties of up to $10,000 in fines
and one year in prison. The Departments of Treasury, Commerce,
Transportation, and Interior share enforcement responsibilities.
Public Law 95-541, the US Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978, requires
expeditions from the US to Antarctica to notify, in advance, the
Office of Oceans and Polar Affairs, Room 5801, Department of State,
Washington, DC 20520, which reports such plans to other nations as
required by the Antarctic Treaty. For more information, contact Permit
Office, Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation,
Arlington, Virginia 22230; telephone: (703) 306-1031, or see their
website at www.nsf.gov.
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