Participation in the Antarctic Treaty

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Participation in the Antarctic Treaty and its main decision-making body – the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) – has been highly sensitive from the outset, in particular due to the fundamental issue of Antarctic territorial sovereignty and the ATCM’s decision-making by unanimity. Broader participation means enhanced applicability of the Antarctic Treaty and acts adopted by the ATCM, but does not necessarily improve effectiveness because each new participant obtains a de facto right to veto. There are multiple reasons why States want to participate in the Antarctic Treaty and other key instruments of the Antarctic Treaty System, including reasons related to the issue of Antarctic territorial sovereignty and the ability to engage in activities such as scientific research, tourism and exploitation of resources. The objective of this article is to analyse the grounds and requirements for participation in the Antarctic Treaty, their genesis during the negotiations on the Antarctic Treaty, and their subsequent operationalisation and application in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-380
Number of pages21
JournalPolar Journal
Issue number2
Early online date5 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Antarctica
  • territorial sovereignty
  • decision-making
  • research


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