Antarctica: A continent of peace, cooperation and science for the protection of the environment.

On 13-18 May, the 41st Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and the 21st Meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection were held at the Palacio San Martín, the seat of our Foreign Ministry. The meetings were attended by 53 Contracting Parties and over a dozen experts and observers.

In 1959, the twelve countries with greater experience in Antarctica signed the Antarctic Treaty, an instrument that imposed a freeze on sovereignty disputes and established that Antarctica was to be used for the purposes of science, peace and international cooperation. Every year, the Contracting Parties, which are currently 53, gather to discuss governance issues of the white continent and any urgent matters concerning the management of the 70 stations that around thirty countries have in Antarctica.

Argentina was one of the twelve original signatories to the Treaty and, to date, it is still one of the leading actors within the system. In fact, since 2004, Buenos Aires has been the seat of the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty - the only international body based in Argentina.

Within this framework, the 41st Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and the 21st Meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection were held on 13-18 May at the Palacio San Martín, the seat of our Foreign Ministry.

The meetings were attended by 53 Contracting Parties and over a dozen experts and observers.

On 13 May, the meeting of the Committee took place, at which the issues addressed included environmental impact assessment, management plans and projects for the creation of new Antarctic Specially Protected Areas, the environmental impact of Antarctic tourism and regulations applicable to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, among a wide range of other issues.

Deliberation continued through 15 May and special mention must be made of the work concerning the assessment of the Visitor Site Guidelines, carried out jointly by Argentina, the United Kingdom, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), a group of NGOs advocating for the protection of the environment.

At the end of the CEP meeting, the Parties re-elected Ms. Patricia Ortúzar (from Argentina), Head of the Environment Management and Tourism Programme of the National Directorate for Antarctica, as Vice Chair.

16 May marked the beginning of the Plenary Session of the Consultative Meeting, which was opened by Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie, who underscored the importance of human activities in Antarctica being developed while carefully preserving the environment. There was also an address by Ms. Ségolène Royal, France's Ambassador for the Arctic and Antarctic Poles, who discussed the impacts of climate change on Antarctica.

At the end of the day, the Foreign Minister offered a reception for delegations at the Palacio San Martín, which was attended by the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Sergio Bergman, and officials from the Ministry of Tourism, in addition to Mr. Albert Lluberas and other authorities of the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty, whose seat is in Argentina.

The following issues were addressed at the 41st ATCM: biodiversity exploration in Antarctica, environmental impact assessment regarding activities and works to be carried out at Antarctic stations, the inspections of the Parties in order to secure compliance with the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty and its Environmental Protocol, and trends in Antarctic tourism and its impact, which has been growing exponentially over the last few years.

As decided at the Plenary Session, Argentina will continue to chair negotiations on Antarctic tourism until the end of the 42nd ATCM, to be held in the Czech Republic in July 2019.

On the sidelines of the ATCM, several bilateral working meetings were held with other Antarctic Programmes and two Memorandums of Understanding on Antarctic Cooperation were signed with the United Kingdom and with Uruguay.

Previous issues

Subscription

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.