UN Cyberschoolbus - HomeUN Cyberschoolbus - Home
Core Treaties  
Treaties you might not expect  

  Antarctica is one of the largest territories covered by a UN treaty, even though it has no government, no flag, no native language, and no permanent human population (only scientists and tourists). Despite these characteristics, which distinguish the frozen continent from nearly every place else on the globe, Antarctica is recognized by the UN as being crucial to the life of the Earth and its inhabitants (Let's just say that if it melted, growing gills would be the least of your concerns).

  The purpose of the main agreement (known as the "Antarctica Treaty," signed in 1959, and deposited with Australia) is to guarantee that Antarctica is used for peaceful purposes and does not become the scene or object of international conflict.

  This however, is just the beginning. There are several other treaties relating to Antarctica, most of which aim to protect the animal and plant life of the continent and the waters surrounding it.

  Growing awareness of how the traffic in seals was endangering the species led to the Convention for The Conservation Of Antarctic Seals in 1972; its purpose is to protect the Southern elephant seal, the Leopard seal, the Weddall seal, the Crabeater seal, the Ross seal, and the unfortunately named Southern fur seal.

  Eight years later the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (also deposited with Australia) was adopted to promote the study of all life (plant, mammal, bird, fish...) in antarctic waters, and to protect that life and its habitat.

Next time you think of the bottom of the globe as a "frozen wasteland," remember that there may not be a lot of partying going on down there, but it's absolutely full of life.

UN Cyberschoolbus - Home comments and suggestions: cyberschoolbus@un.org Copyright © 1996- United Nations