Antarctic diplomacy refers to the diplomatic negotiations and agreements among nations related to the governance and protection of the Antarctic region.
The primary instrument of Antarctic diplomacy is the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), which comprises the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and related agreements, including the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (1972), the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1980), and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1991).
The Antarctic Treaty, signed by 12 countries, stipulates that the continent should be used for peaceful purposes only, and prohibits military activity, mineral mining, nuclear testing, and nuclear waste disposal. It also supports scientific research and protects the continent’s ecozone.
As the effects of climate change become more apparent, the future of Antarctic diplomacy will likely involve even more extensive cooperation and negotiation among nations to address emerging environmental issues and challenges in the region.