11 July, 2019

PRAGUE 11 July 2019

Twenty-nine nations today [11 July 2019] reaffirm their commitment to the treaty that protects and preserves Antarctica as a continent for peace and science.

Sixty years after the signing of the Antarctic Treaty, the ‘Prague Declaration’ reaffirms strong international commitment to its objectives and purposes, to the Protocol on Environmental Protection and to the prohibition of any activity relating to mineral resources, other than scientific research.

The UK delegation comprises members of the FCO’s Polar Regions Unit and BAS Director Jane Francis

Director of British Antarctic Survey Professor Dame Jane Francis, who chaired the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting Working Group on Science and Operations said:

“The Declaration is a clear indication of international support for the conservation of Antarctica.  It celebrates a unique international agreement which designates Antarctica “as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.”

The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting agreed also to a number of important measures to further strengthen the protection and governance of Antarctica. These included:

  • A UK proposal to reduce microplastic pollution in Antarctica obtained agreement from Parties to “take steps towards the elimination of the use of personal care products containing micro-plastic beads in the Antarctic Treaty area”, as well as to increase international research on the impacts of microplastics in the Southern Ocean.
  • The UK received agreement to its proposition to list the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s famous vessel Endurance, which sunk in 1915 and is now lost on the bottom of the Weddell Sea, as a Historic Site and Monument. This classification gives the site additional international protection.
  • The meeting thanked the UK for its proposal to promote the 200 year anniversaries of the discovery of Antarctica and of British mariner William Smith’s discovery of the South Shetland Islands as a means to highlight the importance of the Antarctic Treaty and in protecting Antarctica.
  • The UK/Netherlands proposals to review impacts of a growth in Antarctic tourism received strong support.

The full declaration can be read here