At the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (Berlin, Germany, 23 May – 01 June, 2022), the 25 participating countries expressed strong support to Ukraine in connection with Russia’s armed aggression and staged a démarche during the speech of the Russian representative, demonstratively leaving the meeting room. This happened today, 24 May 2022, in Berlin, where the 44th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting is currently taking place.
“This meeting is, in fact, the most important event of the year in the Antarctic countries elite club, which can be compared with the meeting of the UN General Assembly, but only for the participants of the Antarctic Treaty. The meeting addresses all major issues of joint governance and cooperation on the ice continent. In total, 54 countries are parties to the Treaty, but only 29 Consultative Parties, including Ukraine, have the right to vote», said Oleksii Shkuratov, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, Head of the Ukrainian delegation.
The Open Plenary of the ATCM on 24 May was also addressed by Maksym Yemelianov, the Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of Ukraine in Germany. He informed the delegates of the consequences of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine and the impact of Russian aggression on the Ukrainian Antarctic program.
“The Antarctic Treaty system was established in the spirit of international scientific cooperation as opposed to attempts to militarization and territorial claims. It is obvious that Russia has not grown up to the level of respecting the internationally recognized borders of other states and the right of its neighbors to independent existence. Such an aggressor State does not deserve to be a member of international organizations and must be completely isolated”, – stressed Maksym Yemelianov.
In response, France (currently chairing the Council of Europe) issued a joint statement on behalf of 11 EU member states (including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Spain, Sweden and Finland) of full support and condemnation of Russian aggression.
Delegations from Norway, Romania, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as a number of Latin American countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Uruguay, aligned themselves with the statement. That is, a total of 25 countries joined the statement, 23 of which are Consultative Parties.
During the speech of the Russian representative, the Ukrainian delegation demonstratively left the meeting room. Our demarche was supported by the delegations of the above-mentioned countries, whose representatives also left the meeting room.
“In that manner most of the Treaty countries have shown that the Antarctic world is a civilized world in which there is no place for Russian barbarians.
We hope that this is only the first step towards the forthcoming restriction of any activity of the Russian Federation in the international legal system of the Antarctic Treaty. And that is what we are actively asserting throughout this year’s meeting”, – said Oleksii Shkuratov, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine.
It is also important that the US representative during his speech has already announced two intentions in this direction: denunciation of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Governments of the United States and the Russian Federation on cooperation in Antarctica of 2012 and blocking the chairmanship of the Russian Federation in any working groups and related events under the Antarctic Treaty.
Ukraine acceded to the Antarctic Treaty in 1992. The Antarctic Treaty Membership gives our state the right to conduct activities in Antarctica (in particular, to establish research stations and send scientific expeditions) and to appoint authorized representatives to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings. They are held annually for the purpose of exchanging information, consulting together on matters of common interest pertaining to Antarctica, and formulating and considering and recommending to their Governments measures in furtherance of the principles and objectives of the Treaty.
Since 2004, Ukraine has received the status of a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty – currently it has only 29 countries. This status gives our state the right to a decisive voice in decision-making on all issues related to activities in Antarctica.
The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting XLIV and the Meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection XXIV have commenced. Delegates from nearly 40 countries and seven scientific, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations will work together from 21 May to 3 June, 2022 in Berlin, Germany.
UPD: During the meeting, South Korea, which is a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty, also expressed support for Ukraine and condemned Russian aggression. In other words, we were supported by 26 Antarctic countries, 24 of which are Consultative Parties.