Antarctica is the only continent in the world without a native human population or sovereignty. Instead, it is governed by the Antarctic Treaty System.
Ratified in 1961 by the twelve nations that had a presence in Antarctica (New Zealand included), the treaty established the legal framework for the management of Antarctica. Provisions in the treaty set aside the entire continent as a scientific preserve for peaceful purposes only – exploitation, extraction and military activities were forbidden. Forty-eight nations are now party to this agreement.
But the Antarctic Treaty applied only to the continental land, leaving the surrounding oceans part of the global commons.