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Antarctic Treaty


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.

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Provisions in the Antarctic Treaty set the continent aside for peace and science.


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