Antarctic Treaty System (ATS)


The Antarctic Treaty System provides the framework for international co-operation under which various Conventions and Protocols regarding Antarctica were negotiated. The objective of the Treaty is to regulate scientific research and the tourism potential of Antarctica to the benefit of all mankind and to reserve the use of the continent exclusively for peaceful purposes.

South Africa does not claim sovereignty over Antarctic territory and does not recognise the right or claim to territorial sovereignty by any state. South Africa's involvement within the Treaty and its subsidiary conventions and protocols are in line with the generally accepted scientific principles for Antarctica and our geographic proximity to Antarctica. The Treaty was signed on 1 December 1959 and entered into force on 12 June 1961. South Africa is an original signatory state.

As of March 2006, there are 45 Signatories with South Africa the only African representative.


Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Department of Public Works
South African Navy
Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
Antarctica and Southern Ocean Coalition


The Convention on Conservation of Antarctic Seals (CCAS)
The Convention on Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
The Convention on Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (CRAMRA)
The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol)


Since the inception of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959 the Consultative Parties meet for the purpose of exchanging information, consulting together on matters of common interest pertaining to Antarctica, and formulating, considering and recommending to their Governments measures in furtherance of the principles and objectives of the Treaty. The port of Cape Town has increasingly become a gateway for research vessels on their way to Antarctica, and the potential is there for future growth in co-ordinating this activity.

The Antarctic Treaty is a model of international co-existence and co-operation. The conservation of the Antarctic environment and its ecosystem is of cardinal importance to South Africa, whose own environment is directly influenced by the Antarctic continent.

Scientific research conducted in Antarctica is of benefit to South Africa as it is to the other littoral states of the Southern Hemisphere and indeed to the entire world as results are analysed and utilised internationally.

The relationship within and between Antarctica's atmospheric, biological and physical environments, and between these and those of the rest of the world, provide a continuing source of significant information for the understanding of the natural sciences of our planet. Meteorological information is fed daily into the world-wide meteorological data network.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa