Sunday, 1 September 2013

A Brief Look at the History of Antarctic Politics

The Politics of Antarctica

Several nations lay territorial claims to the Earth's southernmost continent. Seven of the continent's eight territories have been claimed by various nations. However, in general, these claims are not universally recognised. Regardless of this, these claims have been somewhat postponed due to the Antarctic Treaty, which came into force in 1961. The Antarctic Treaty allows no more claims to be made on the continent, while it is in force. Also, it does acknowledge or challenge any of the claims that were made to the land before the Treaty came into force. The Treaty also defines Antarctica as a place of peace and international scientific benefit.

                                               Image Credit:

Above is a look at what Antarctic land is claimed by the various nations that have claimed land there. As you can see, some of the claims overlap each other, in particular the claims laid by the United Kingdom, Argentina and Chile. Despite, The Antarctic Treaty officially 'delaying' these claims, there has still been disputes over them. A recent example was in late 2012 when the British Government named 169,000 square miles of  the British Antarctic Territory after Queen Elizabeth II as a 'gift' for her Diamond Jubilee. Argentina saw this as a provocation,as the British Antarctic Territory overlaps Argentine Antarctica. What made this worse was that tension had already been created after a recent dispute over the Falkland Islands, another British Overseas Territory. However, on the 27th December 2012 Russia called for the the responsible compliance of the Antarctic Treaty, which states that no activities,which take place when the treaty is in  force, can assert or deny a nation's claim on territory in Antarctica.

One nation, Brazil, has not officially claimed land in Antarctica, but has declared 'a zone of interest'. Meanwhile, Peru,Russia,South Africa and the USA have reserved their rights to claim land in Antarctica. Does this mean in the future their could be more political tension over Antarctica ? It seems that there will be no major disputes over territory in Antarctica. However the possibility is still open, even for minor disputes.


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