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Annual Antarctic Treaty Conference Opens Monday in Uruguay

Monday, May 3rd 2010 - 08:15 UTC
Full article 16 comments
Climate change, tourism, Sea of the Law among the issues to be debated Climate change, tourism, Sea of the Law among the issues to be debated

Uruguay is hosting two Antarctic Treaty meetings which will officially be opened Monday May 3 in Punta del Este by Foreign Affairs minister Luís Almagro. Uruguayan authorities expect an attendance of over 350 foreign officials at the Thirty three Antarctic Treaty Consultative and the Thirteenth Committee on Environmental Protection meetings.

According to the official release from the Uruguayan Antarctic Institute, delegates from the 48 Antarctic Treaty member countries, plus one guest and 16 international and inter-government organizations will be present during the event, which is scheduled to last until May 14.

The Consultative Meeting is the official deliberation forum of the Antarctic Treaty and holds annual meetings, last year in the United States and in 2011 in Argentina.

The meeting in Punta Del Este, Uruguay, is likely to be high level, as some hanging issues involve national interests. The Treaty internationalized and demilitarized the frozen continent for cooperative exploration and use. However it did not foresee the increasing and rival demands on the territory or the impact of tourism and the consequences of climate change are most visible in this pristine landscape.

Eleven countries have claimed sovereignty over slices of Antarctica to secure contiguous offshore oil, gas and mineral rights. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) confers on all coastal states sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting the natural resources of its continental shelf. In the Treaty—which was ratified on 23 Jun 1961 by 48 countries—Antarctica is defined as all land and ice shelves south of 60 degrees south latitude.

A new report shows that the ice shelves are shrinking leaving more sea bed to fight over. With dozens of claims before it covering both the Arctic and Antarctic, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has become swamped with work, and it could take decades for it to finish reviewing the rival claims.

The conference that begins Monday in Punta del Este will also continue to explore ways to protect the vulnerable Antarctic environment from increasing tourism.

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  • Hoytred

    Another area where Argentina is making a spurious claim against British territory, albeit with even less historic or legal support than their ridiculous claim to the Falkland Islands.

    It's probably down to childish geography again, i.e. the Antartic is closer to us than you!

    Of course Argentina has declined 4 offers by the UK to take the matter to the ICJ. Even with no resident populations to upset, they still know that the Argentine case is so weak it would get laughed out of the court !

    May 03rd, 2010 - 12:46 pm 0
  • PABLOz

    Hoytred, the only ridiculous and childish things here are your comments. You have no education whatsoever. First of all, the fact that you consider geography something childish shows your IQ level. On the other hand, you say that there's no historic support... Well, what have you been drinking before writing here. Do you know what is the world's first base in the Antarctic region, operating continuously till these days? Have you heard the name of Orcadas Base? Not to mention thousand of historic support examples you would'nt understand.
    Reffering to your 4 declined offers by the UK to take the matter to the ICJ... Well, what can I say... I'll explain something to you. States don't take these issues to the ICJ because of the simple fact that there's a treaty (the one that is mentioned in this article, the same one you have no clue about) wich says that these issues are frozen, the only thing every State could do was to claim sovereignty by submitting it. By the way, every country can settle bases in the antartica. Which is true is that probably Argentina doesn't have more rights than UK or Chile, however Argentina doesn't have less rights either... It's not over discussion until the treaty unfroze these subjects. I kindly invite you to read this document and not to give opinions as if you were in a soccer match.

    May 03rd, 2010 - 04:19 pm 0
  • agent0060

    I'm not sure where PABLOz is going with his comment. The facts, as far as I have been able to determine them, was that the weather station currently known as Orcadas Base was established by Dr. William S. Bruce's Scottish National Antarctic Expedition on Laurie Island. Having reached an agreement with the Argentine government to maintain the station, Bruce transported three Argentine scientific assistants to Omond House, as it was then known, and then handed over the building, its furnishings and provisions, together with all magnetic and meteorological instruments, to the Argentine government.
    So I guess that means that Argentina has a weather station on Laurie Island built by a Scottish, i.e. British, expedition and then given to it.

    May 03rd, 2010 - 08:54 pm 0
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