All about Antarctic Treaty System
This treaty ensures international co operation and harmony between the countries with an interest in the frozen continent.
The Antarctic Treaty was originally signed by 12 countries who had set up scientific research during the event- International Geophysical Year ( IGY) from 1957-58. These 12 countries established more than 50 permanent Research Stations on the solid ground of the continent.
The 12 countries are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Soviet Union, UK & USA. By 2019 there are 54 member states.
The Head Quarters of of the Antarctic Treaty System is in Buenos Aires. The secretariat staff manage the administrative functions, facilitating communication & information between the signatories. They organise annual conferences and liaise with other organisations such as Committee of Environmental Protection.
The 4 official languages of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat are- French, Spanish, English & Russian.
For the purpose of the Antarctic Treaty System, Antarctica is officially defined as all the land and ice shelves at 60 Degrees South Latitude which means that the small portion is actually in North of Antarctic Circle. It is the driest, coldest and windiest continent on Earth.
McMurdo Station is the ‘de facto’ capital of Antarctica. The station as founded by USA named after Archibald McMurdo who was a British Naval Officer in the 19th century. He was aboard HMS Terror when she sailed to the Antarctic between 1840-43.
The Antarctic Treaty is often held to be an example of the Principle of International Law- “The Common Heritage of Mankind Principle”. The treaty is meant to ensure Antarctica is kept peacefully and protected for future generations. Hence this Treaty prohibits any military action, nuclear explosions and dumping of radio active waste.
Antarctica has Its own flag. It is a dark blue field with a white map of Antarctic land mass with three concrete circles and twelve lines radiating out from the centre point. It was officially adopted in 2002.
Interestingly US State Postal Service issued a postage stamp in 1971. The 8 cent stamp marked the 10th anniversary of the ratification of the Treaty. It depicts the Antarctic Flag.