No one owns Antarctica – Why does that matter?

January 12, 2022 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

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Antarctica is a continent of extraordinary politics. With no single sovereign state in charge, it is governed by the principles of the Antarctic Treaty signed by 12 countries in 1959 and later joined by another 42. Yet, seven of the original signatory states claim territory there and they treat their claims as part of their overall national territory, even though the Treaty does not recognize such claims nor deny them. Over six decades of international cooperation in the Antarctic has meant balancing issues of contested sovereignty, safeguarding security and environmental protection, and advancing scientific research in Antarctica for the benefit of all humankind. So what’s at stake to ensure this continues?


Anita Dey Nuttall, PhD, is Polar Science and Policy Engagement Officer and is on the faculty of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta. Anita is a past chair and current member of the Canadian Committee for Antarctic Research. She teaches resource management and environmental policy and has interests in science policy issues, the history and contemporary nature of national Antarctic programs, geopolitics, and sovereignty in the circumpolar regions.


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