Inspections under the Antarctic Treaty and its Protocol on Environmental Protection

Three expeditioners in cold weather clothing in front of a sign that says Geographic South Pole.
Australian inspection team at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, 2016. (Photo: Jason Roberts)

Article VII of the Antarctic Treaty provides that each Consultative Party has the right to designate observers to undertake inspections in Antarctica. Article 14 of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (the Protocol) also provides for the conduct of inspections, consistent with Article VII of the Treaty, to promote protection of the Antarctic environment and ensure compliance with the Protocol.

Since 1963 Australian inspection teams have conducted inspections on nine occasions, visiting stations, facilities, vessels, and protected areas across a wide area of East Antarctica, the Ross Sea region, Dronning Maud Land and the Antarctic Peninsula. Australia most recently conducted inspections in 2016, 2011 and 2010.

Antarctic Treaty inspections 2016

In December 2016 Australian observers conducted on-ground inspections of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station (United States) and Antarctic Specially Managed Area No. 5 Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

Antarctic Treaty inspections 2011

In January 2011 Australian observers conducted on-ground inspections of Gondwana Station (Germany) and Vostok Station (Russian Federation), and an aerial observation of Leningradskaya Station (Russian Federation). In each case these inspections were the first since the Protocol came into force.

Antarctic Treaty inspections 2010

In January 2010 Australian observers conducted on-ground inspections of Syowa Station (Japan), Druzhnaya IV and Soyuz Station (Russian Federation) and Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) No. 168 Mount Harding, and an aerial observation of Molodezhnaya Station (Russian Federation). Soyuz Station had not been previously inspected. For each of the stations, the inspections were the first since the Protocol on Environmental Protection under the Antarctic Treaty came into force in 1998.

Australian inspection reports

Reports of inspections conducted by Australia and other Parties can be accessed from the website of the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty.