The Antarctic Treaty was signed between 12 countries in Washington on 1 December 1959 for making Antarctic Continent as demilitarized zone to be preserved for scientific research only. It entered into force in 1961 and has since been acceded by many other nations. The total number of Parties to the Treaty is now 53.
The original signatories were the 12 countries active in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–58. The twelve countries that had significant interests in Antarctica at the time were: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Provision of Antarctic Treaty
• Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only; any military measures, with the exception of use of military assets for scientific research or any other peaceful purpose, are prohibited.
• Freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation as applied during IGY shall continue.
• Plans for scientific programs and the observations and results thereof shall be freely exchanged; scientists may be exchanged between expeditions.
• All national claims are held static from the date of signature. No future activity of any country during the life of the Treaty can affect the status quo on any rights or claims to territorial sovereignty.
• Nuclear explosions and disposal of radioactive waste are prohibited in Antarctica.
• The provision of the Treaty applies to the area south of 60° South latitude.
• Any Contracting Party may appoint observers. They shall have complete freedom of access at any time to any area of Antarctica, with the right to inspect any other nation’s buildings, installations, equipment, ships, or aircraft or to carry out aerial observations.
• Regular consultative meetings of the active signatory nations shall be held.
• Contracting Parties shall ensure that no activity contrary to the Treaty is carried out.
• Any disputes between Contracting Parties shall be resolved by peaceful negotiation, in the last resort by the International Court of Justice.
• The Treaty shall remain in force for a minimum of 30 years.
• These Articles provide the legal details of ratification and deposit.