Antarctic Treaty


July 6, 2022

The Antarctic Treaty is the document signed on December 1, 1959 by the countries that claimed possession of continental parts of Antarctica, in which they undertake to suspend their claims for an indefinite period, allowing the freedom of scientific exploration of the continent, under a regime of international cooperation. The treaty has a legal regime that extends to other countries, in addition to the initial 12, the possibility of becoming consultative parties in the discussions that govern the "status" of the continent when, demonstrating their interest, they carry out substantial scientific research activities . The area covered by the Antarctic Treaty is located south of the 60 S parallel, and its 14 articles apply there, which enshrine principles such as freedom for scientific research, international cooperation for this purpose and the peaceful use of Antarctica. , expressly prohibiting the militarization of the region and its use for nuclear explosions or as a deposit for radioactive waste.


In 1950, at the International Council of the Scientific Union (ICSU), the possibility of holding the Third International Polar Year was discussed. At the suggestion of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the concept of a polar year was extended to the entire globe, thus giving rise to the International Geophysical Year, which took place from July 1957 to December 1958. The ICSU approved, in 1957, the creation of the Special Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR), formed by delegates from different countries engaged in research in Antarctica. This was an important milestone for the development of research on the Continent, having participated in them: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, United States, France, Japan, Norway, New Zealand, United Kingdom, South African Republic and Union of Socialist Republics soviet. At the end of the International Geophysical Year, the countries participating in the Antarctic surveys maintained their stations, reaffirming their interest in the region, which motivated the call made by the United States to the conference in Washington, DC in 1958, which would discuss the future of the continent. As a result of the Washington conference, the twelve participating countries signed, on December 1, 1959, the Antarctic Treaty, which entered into force on June 23, 1961.


Brazil joined the Antarctic Treaty in 1975, and created the Brazilian Antarctic Program (PROANTAR), its activities on that continent began in 1982, when it carried out the first Antarctic Operation (OPERANTAR I). In 1983, Brazil was elevated to the status of Advisory Member of the Antarctic Treaty. In 1984, the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station (EACF) was inaugurated.

Ratification of Portugal

On February 22, 2007, the Assembly of the Republic recommended that the Portuguese Government ratify the Antarctic Treaty. On July 9, 2009, the Council of Ministers decided to initiate the ratification process of the Antarctic Treaty. On November 9, 2009, Portugal's ratification of the Antarctic Treaty was published in the Diário da República in accordance with the Resolution of the Assembly of the Republic and the Decree of the President of the Republic. On January 29, 2010, Portugal deposits the instrument of ratification of the Antarctic Treaty with the United States Government, Portugal is a party to the Treaty, as made public by Notice nº 28/2010 of February 10, 2010 and which is amended by Notice No. 93/2010 of June 16, 2010. Ratification gave impetus to the Portuguese Polar Committee.


The Antarctic Treaty is an agreement signed since 1959, which determines the use of the continent for peaceful purposes, establishes the exchange of scientific information and prohibits new territorial claims. The Treaty determined that until 1991 Antarctica would not belong to any country in particular, although