Among the original signatories of the Antarctic Treaty were the 7 countries – Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom – with territorial claims to parts of Antarctica; some overlapping. Some Treaty Parties do not recognise territorial claims and others maintain they reserve the right to make a claim.

The Antarctic Treaty puts aside the potential for conflict over sovereignty by providing that nothing that occurs while the Treaty is in force will enhance or diminish territorial claims. Treaty Parties cannot make any new claims while the Treaty is in force.

The Antarctic Treaty entered into force in 1961 and has since been acceded to by many other nations. Through this agreement, the countries active in Antarctica meet every year to discuss issues as diverse as scientific cooperation, measures to protect the environment and operational issues. They are committed to taking decisions by consensus, and have all made the commitment that Antarctica should not become the scene or object of international discord.