The twenty-third of June 2001 marks the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of the Antarctic Treaty. The Treaty provides for the cooperative governance of the region south of 60° South, and now is the cornerstone of the Antarctic Treaty system.
When compared to other international agreements the Antarctic Treaty is modest in length, but that does not reflect its enormous significance and enduring effectiveness as a basis for cooperative management of an entire continent. Since the adoption of the Treaty by 12 states, the number of parties has grown to 44, of which 27 are the Consultative Parties who are entitled to participate in the decision making. But the growth of the Treaty system goes well beyond this.
Since the first Consultative Meeting in Canberra in 1961, the parties have developed a series of increasingly sophisticated and specialised measures which combine to form a regime of great effectiveness for managing activities on the Antarctic continent and in vast regions of the surrounding Southern Ocean.
Apart from the Treaty itself, the system includes the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. In addition there is a raft of measures, resolutions and decisions adopted at the annual meetings of the Consultative parties. Also associated are a number of institutions and organisations which undertake specialised work and provide advice to the ATCM.
The year 2001 also sees the 20th annual meeting of CCAMLR (see story opposite on the Convention’s achievements) which has been instrumental in managing and protecting the living resources of the Antarctic marine area. Celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Treaty and its achievements since 1961, and the 20th meeting of CCAMLR, will be milestones of the Treaty system in 2001.