Political status of the Antarctic

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Territorial claims in the Antarctic:
  • New ZealandNew Zealand New Zealand
  • AustraliaAustralia Australia
  • FranceFrance France
  • NorwayNorway Norway
  • United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
  • ChileChile Chile
  • ArgentinaArgentina Argentina
  • The political status of Antarctica south of 60 ° S is determined by the Antarctic treaty system. According to Articles IV and VI of the Basic Treaty, which has been in force since 1961, the Convention applies to all land and ice surfaces south of the geographical latitude mentioned. While existing territorial claims remain unaffected, no new claims may be asserted within the period of validity.

    Territorial claims until 1946

    Until the beginning of the 20th century, no territorial claims were made in Antarctica or, if the land was taken over by James Clark Ross in 1841, as was the case with Victoria , these were not confirmed by the respective government . An official request by Norway to the British government in 1907 as to whether the Antarctic coast south of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia were British territory forced them to act and in 1908 the sector between 20 ° and 80 ° west longitude was declared British territory by a royal patent . In the 1920s, Great Britain levied license fees for sealing seals and operating a radio system in the South Orkney Islands through Argentina , which was sharply rejected by the Argentine government.

    In 1923 the so-called "Hughes' Doctrine" was created, which reflects the standpoint of US American policy. Charles Evans Hughes' statement read: The State Department's opinion is that if the discovery of unknown lands is related to formal tenure, there is no recognition of sovereignty over possession unless the discovery is an actual settlement of the discovered territory follows . Accordingly, Richard Evelyn Byrd's action - the taking of discovered territory of Antarctica for the United States - received no attention from the US State Department.

    Great Britain declared on July 30, 1923 that the area of ​​the Ross Dependency is under the administration of the Governor-General of New Zealand .

    On March 27, 1924, France filed a décret to claim mining , hunting and fishing rights for Terre Adélie and Adelieland. A more precise delimitation of the claimed territory between the coastline and the South Pole has not yet taken place.

    Norway announced its territorial claim on January 14, 1939 with a Royal Proclamation over the territory under Norwegian sovereignty in Antarctica . The German Reich rejected the Norwegian claim with a protest note nine days later and reserved full freedom of action with regard to future claims ( see also: German Antarctic Expedition 1938/39 ).

    The Japanese Empire made no territorial claims. There was only one proposal brought to the Shūgiin Chamber in 1939 by MP S. Dokei. This proposed a resolution authorizing the government to place the area discovered by Shirase Nobu under Japanese sovereignty.

    By 1946, seven nations had raised territorial claims, only the sector between 90 ° and 150 ° West remained unclaimed. Recognition of the claims was mutual by Australia, France, Great Britain and New Zealand , while Argentina and Chile did not recognize recognition because of the overlapping claims with each other and with the UK sector.

    The USA and the Soviet Union did not recognize territorial claims and reserved them for themselves.

    The current demands concern the Antarctic continent from the coastline to the South Pole and the offshore islands up to 60 ° south latitude. Only Norway, as a claiming state, rejects this “sector theory” and has not defined the southern extent of the Queen Maud country it claims .

    partly unofficial
    location Country Territory
    official name in the local language
    Tierra del FuegoTierra del Fuego Antarctica, Argentina territorial claim.svg ArgentinaArgentina Argentina Argentine Antarctic Territory
    Antártida Argentina
    0.965,597 km²
    (1,231,064 km² including ice shelf areas)
    AustraliaAustralia Antarctica, Australia territorial claim.svg AustraliaAustralia Australia Australian Antarctic Territory
    Australian Antarctic Territory
    5,896,500 km²
    Flag of Magallanes, Chile.svg Antarctica, Chile territorial claim.svg ChileChile Chile Chilean Antarctic Territory
    Antártica Chilena
    1,205,000 km²
    Flag of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.svg Antarctica, France territorial claim.svg FranceFrance France Adélieland
    Terre Adélie
    District of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands
    0.432,000 km²
    New ZealandNew Zealand Antarctica, New Zealand territorial claim.svg New ZealandNew Zealand New Zealand Ross Dependency
    Ross Dependency
    0.450,000 km²
    0.(750,310 km² including ice shelf areas)
    NorwayNorway Antarctica, Norway territorial claim (Queen Maud Land, 2015) .svg NorwayNorway Norway Queen Maud Land Dronning Maud Land
    Peter I Island Peter I Øy
    2,741,000 km²
    0,000.156 km²
    Flag of the British Antarctic Territory.svg Antarctica, United Kingdom territorial claim.svg United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom British Antarctic Territory
    British Antarctic Territory
    1,709,400 km² (including ice shelf areas)

    Political activities from 1947 until the Antarctic Treaty came into force in 1961

    In 1947 the American admiral Richard Byrd dropped flags of all UN states over Antarctica in order to bring them to the community of all countries. India took up the Antarctic issue in 1956 and suggested placing Antarctica under the supervision of the UN. This initiative was supported by Brazil and several other developing countries. At the same time, with the International Geophysical Year 1957/58, the systematic exploration began, which led to intensive collaboration between scientists from different nations. 40 stations were set up on the mainland and another 20 on the islands, which were operated by a total of 67 countries. The positive experiences from this collaboration ultimately led to the signing of the Antarctic Treaty , which came into force in 1961.

    Political development after 1961

    Contracting States
  • Consultative states with territorial claims
  • Consultative state with deferred territorial claim
  • Consultative state without territorial claim
  • Contracting state without voting rights
  • no contracting state
  • The problems associated with the partially overlapping territorial claims were put on hold by the Antarctic Treaty and the cooperation between the signatory states led to a rapid exploration of the continent. Further agreements for the protection of the Antarctic fauna and flora (1964), for the protection of the Antarctic seals (1978) and for the preservation of living resources (so-called Krill Convention, 1982) were concluded. However, the handling of mineral raw materials was not regulated in the Antarctic Treaty. Environmental protection organizations in particular called for action, although no economically interesting deposits were known. The coal and iron ore deposits, which are present in large quantities in the ice-free areas, are of such poor quality that the mining and transport costs would have significantly exceeded the value of the raw materials. Geologists suspect oil and natural gas on the Antarctic shelf and in the sedimentary basins in the interior of the continent, but under an up to 4 km thick ice sheet or in waters with icebergs of 3000 km² (slightly larger than the Saarland ) an extraction is for the foreseeable future not possible.

    In June 1982 negotiations were started on the so-called raw materials regime (CRAMRA) to regulate the exploration and extraction of mineral raw materials under strict environmental requirements. These negotiations gave the public the impression that the natural resources of the Antarctic should be distributed among the Consultative States. In the following years, Malaysia took up the idea of ​​an Antarctic under UN administration. In 1985 there was a UN debate demanding international control and fair distribution of the profits from the extraction of natural resources. The UN accepted the draft resolution, but the consultative states boycotted the debate and ignored the resolution. The CRAMRA negotiations lasted until 1988, but the agreement ultimately failed because Australia and France did not sign it. Instead, negotiations began in October 1989, which were concluded in 1991 with the Madrid Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty. This environmental protection protocol prohibits any exploration and exploitation of mineral resources for 50 years; Changes can only be decided afterwards and only with a 3/4 majority of the voting signatory states of the Antarctic Treaty.

    Contribution by environmental organizations

    In 1972, environmental organizations first proposed that the Antarctic wilderness be completely protected as a world park . The particularly active Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) with members such as Greenpeace and the WWF fought for the preservation of the “ last wilderness ”. One of the comrades-in-arms was Sir Peter Scott , the son of Robert Falcon Scott . In 1986/87 Greenpeace was the first nature conservation organization to set up a research station on Ross Island near the former hut of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott and the American McMurdo station . A variety of studies and research have been carried out on the subject of environmental protection and global ecology, including: a. Analysis of environmental toxins in water, meteorology and sea ice development. The surrounding stations were also monitored: fuel , garbage , waste oil and scrap were stored near the McMurdo station and contaminated the sensitive ecosystem . Through modern public relations work - the Greenpeace station worked with wind generators and satellite communication , while other stations still mainly used fossil fuels and shortwave radio - the world public was informed about what was happening in the Antarctic and alternative approaches. Images of the construction of runways at the French Dumont-d'Urville station in breeding colonies aroused people's anger.

    World Park Antarctica

    In 1983 Greenpeace presented a concept for a "World Park Antarctica". It builds on four basic principles:

    1. The originality of the Antarctic landscape should be given the highest priority.
    2. The plants and animals of the Antarctic as well as their environment should be protected without restrictions (fish and krill fishing can only be permitted to a limited extent).
    3. The Antarctic is supposed to be a region of limited scientific research in which the cooperation of scientists of all nations is promoted.
    4. The Antarctic should be a peace zone, free from all nuclear and other weapons and free from military activities.

    In 1990 international negotiations began for such an Antarctic Environmental Protection Protocol. In 1997 it was signed by all 26 states entitled to vote and came into force on January 14, 1998. The protection of the entire continent, temporarily limited to 50 years, was achieved. In addition, specially protected areas in the Antarctic have been designated.

    Current problems and negotiations

    With the Madrid Protocol, which came into force in 1998, and the accession of a number of emerging countries such as India, the People's Republic of China, Colombia and Venezuela to the Antarctic Treaty in the 1980s, the old contrast to the Antarctic issues between the predominantly western consultative states (also known as the "Antarctic Club") ) and in the meantime largely settled in the emerging and developing countries, since there is no longer any fear of exploitation of the continent. Nonetheless, there is still a need to further develop the contract system, because until now no liability issues in the event of environmental accidents (such as the Bahia Paraiso oil spill in 1989) have been regulated, nor have regulations been enacted for the currently only permitted economic activity, tourism . The latter point in particular appears urgent when one considers the jump in visitor numbers of 300% between 1998 and 2008.


    • GEO magazine (December 1997 issue, pp. 16–41).
    • GeoSpecial Arctic and Antarctic (March 2003 edition)
    • John May: The Greenpeace Book of Antarctica . Otto Maier-Verlag, Ravensburg (1991). ISBN 3-473-46166-0 .
    • Norbert W. Roland: Antarctica - research in the eternal ice . Spectrum, Heidelberg (2009). ISBN 978-3-8274-1875-3 .
    • Ulrich Smeddinck: The implementation of the Antarctic protection in Germany. Natur und Recht 28 (6), pp. 342-348 (2006), ISSN  0172-1631 .

    Individual evidence

    1. Peter Abbink: Antarctic policy making and science in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany (1957-1990) . Barkhuis. Eelde / Tynaarlo, 2009. pp. 24f. ISBN 978-9-077-92260-6 .
    2. James W. Booth: Who owns the south pole . Popular Mechanics Co. In: Popular Mechanics Magazine . Chicago, April 1930, p. 588ff.
    3. ^ Robert K. Headland: Chronical List of Antarctic Expeditions . Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, 1989. p. 271. ISBN 0-521-30903-4 .
    4. ^ Robert K. Headland: ibid . P. 272.
    5. ^ Donald Rothwell: The Polar Regions and the Development of International Law . Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, 1996. p. 58. ISBN 0-521-56182-5 .
    6. Kimie Hara: Cold War Frontiers in the Asia-Pacific . Nissan Institute-Routledge. New York, 2006/2007. P. 127. ISBN 978-0-415-41208-7 .
    7. ^ Geographical survey. I. Geography in text and figures: Dependencies. In: Statistical Yearbook of Norway 2013 Geographical survey. Statistisk sentralbyrå (SSB), accessed on December 17, 2017 .
    8. ^ Norbert W. Roland (1983): Mineral resources of the Antarctic: State of knowledge and possible uses. Geographische Rundschau 3, pp. 120–122.
    9. B. St. John (1986): Antarctica - Geology and hydrocarbon potential. AAPG Memoir 40, pp. 55-100.
    10. https://www.greenpeace.de/sites/www.greenpeace.de/files/Antarktis-Chronik-factsheet.pdf
    11. ^ Ingo Heidbrink: Claiming Sovereignty Where There can be no Sovereignty - Antarctica . In: Environment, Space, Place . tape 8 , no. 2 , 2016, ISSN  2066-5377 , p. 99–121 , doi : 10.5840 / esplace20168212 ( pdcnet.org [accessed December 4, 2018]).