Access and Benefit Sharing in International Law
Intellectual Property and the Environment series
Chapter 2: Antarctica
The Antarctic mainland was formally recorded in the early 1800s and since then a range of (overlapping) sovereignty claims has been made over parts, although not all parts, of Antarctica. Despite these early claims, agreement about the uses of Antarctica was not reached until the Antarctic Treaty was opened for signature on 1 December 1959 and entered into force on 23 June 1961. The Antarctic Treaty developed out of the International Geophysical Year where twelve nations joined together in a co-operative program of research and other support activities. The success of the International Geophysical Year and the threat of Antarctica as a potential future battleground were the impetus for the twelve nations to pursue and reach further agreement. This was then reflected in the main objectives of the Antarctic Treaty that Antarctica be used only for peaceful purposes and an overriding aspiration of freedom of scientific research and international cooperation for the good of humanity.
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