Signed in 1959, the Antarctic Treaty entered into force
in 1961 and regulates the entire area to the south of latitude 60° S, creating the legal regime that ensures the environmental protection of the area and putting a hold on territorial claims. Since its creation, the Antarctic Treaty System has acquired greater stability and institutionalization. The State Parties meet annually, and in 2003 created the Permanent Secretariat of the Treaty, based in Buenos Aires, in order to act as a trustee of norms and regulations created within the framework of the Consultative Meetings and to deal with administrative matters.
The fundamental principles of the Antarctic Treaty are:
(i) the peaceful use of the region and its resources;
(ii) freedom of scientific research;
(iii) the promotion of international cooperation in Antarctic research;
(iv) fair and egalitarian division of benefits arising from the resources and research in the continent;
(v) respect to the position of each Party regarding the recognition or not of sovereignty claims.
Signed in 1991, the Madrid Protocol on Environmental Protection complements the Antarctic Treaty and declares the region to the South of latitude 60° S a "natural reserve, devoted to peace and science". The Protocol prohibits, "for an indefinite period of time", all activities relating to Antarctic mineral resources except for scientific research. Annex V to the Protocol allows for the creation, in the continent, of “Specially Protected Areas” and “Specially Managed Areas”, protecting certain regions throught inpending or restricting access, and certain ways of management.
Established in 1982, the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) integrates the Treaty System. This organization was created to promote the rational use of marine resources of Antarctica, especially krill, and has 25 members – including Brazil, which joined CCAMLR in 1985. Among the issues under discussion are the creation of Marine Protected Areas under the Convention; the establishment of harvesting levels in the Convention region; and the combat to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Brazil acceded to the Antarctic Treaty in 1975 and organized, in 1982, its first expedition to the continent – Operation Antarctica (OPERANTAR) I. The success of this operation led to the acceptance of Brazil as a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty, in 1983. Since then, Brazil has been participating fully in the decision-making process of the Antarctic regime and in the development of regulations for human activities in the region.
In February 2012, during OPERANTAR XXX, which marked 30 years of Brazilian presence in Antarctica, a tragic fire destroyed the Commander Ferraz Antarctic station. Soon after the fire, the Brazilian Government initiated proceedings with a view to constructing a new Antarctic station, ensuring the continuity of scientific research and of the Brazilian presence in the continent.
The strong influence of the Antarctic continent on the Brazilian climate, as well as the favorable environment to the study of causes, effects and consequences of climate change, demonstrate the importance of Brazil maintaining the leading Antarctic science program.
From May 12th to 21st, 2014, Brazil hosted the 37th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, in Brasilia. It was a unique opportunity to strengthen the Brazilian commitment to the Antarctic Treaty System, to the environmental preservation of the region, and to the promotion of international scientific cooperation, as well as to give greater visibility to PROANTAR and to national scientific research.
To know more:
Brazilian Antarctic Program (in Portuguese)