The Antarctic Treaty is the
treaty which was implemented in order to determine the exact disposition of
Antarctica with regard to the international community. The Antarctic Treaty was
the initial document which established the basic tenets for the disposition of
Antarctica, with the Antarctic Treaty being expanded over time into the
Antarctic Treaty System, including amendments and changes to the Antarctic
Treaty which were designed to change the way in which Antarctica was dealt with
internationally for the better.
The Antarctic Treaty itself was
put into effect in 1961 and has remained in effect ever since. The initial
signers of the Antarctic Treaty included Argentina, Belgium, France, Japan, New
Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union, as well
as four others.
The Antarctic Treaty sets out
that Antarctica cannot be used by any country for any kind of military purpose
and that it should be preserved and retained for the purposes of science and
scientific expeditions. The Antarctic Treaty also sets out that no nation has
territorial rights to Antarctica, meaning that no nation has the right to
dispense with hazardous waste in Antarctica, for example.
The Antarctic Treaty establishes
the International Court of Justice as the Court which will handle any
disagreements which might arise with regard to the disposition of Antarctica.
The Antarctic Treaty has been expanded by such treaties as the Convention for
the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, the Protocol on Environmental Protection
to the Antarctic Treaty, and the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic
Mineral Resource Activities.