International Cooperation

Antarctic Treaty System

The Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington on 1 December 1959 (date of entry into force – June 23, 1961).  

Some important provisions of the Treaty: Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only (Art. I); freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation toward that end … shall continue (Art. II); scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available (Art. III); all areas of Antarctica, including all stations, installations and equipment within those areas … shall be open at all times to inspection ” (Art. VII).

Ukraine acceded to the Treaty on September 17, 1992, and on May 27, 2004, it acquired the status of a Consultative Party (that is, it acquired the veto power when making decisions that should be taken exclusively by consensus).

The Antarctic Treaty became the legal basis for the development of an extensive system of international regulatory enactments (regimes), which supplementing and specifying the provisions of the Treaty  regulates various activities in Antarctica –  region that covers about 10% of the Earth’s surface.

The main documents of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) are:

the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (CCAS, London, 1972)

the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR, Canberra, 1980)

the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid, 1991)

The Madrid Protocol has become the culmination of many years of development of environmental standards and management tools, which have been consolidated into a single comprehensive document.

The Madrid Protocol sets forth basic principles:

  • designation of Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”;
  • prohibition of all activities relating to Antarctic mineral resources, except for scientific research;
  • environmental protection is a basic requirement that is taken into account when planning and implementing all types of activities in Antarctica;
  • the planning and implementation of all activities in Antarctica should be preceded by an assessment of the impact of such activities on the Antarctic environment;
  • For any activity, prior to its realization, emergency response plans should be prepared.

Thanks to a comprehensive and precautionary environmental regime, the Madrid Protocol became a full-fledged third pillar of the Antarctic Treaty System along with the peaceful use of the continent and the international cooperation in the region

As part of the 32nd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM, Baltimore-Washington, USA, 2009.) the Parties adopted the Washington Declaration on the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty. In this document, the parties reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to the principles and provisions of the Antarctic Treaty and all other related acts that appeared after its signing.

On June 23, 2011, in Buenos Aires, as part of the 34th ATCM the Declaration on Antarctic cooperation  on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the Antarctic Treaty was adopted. It was aimed at further strengthening the obligations arising from this Treaty.


The Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty, meeting in Santiago, Chile, in May 2016, have adopted the Santiago Declaration on the Twenty Fifth Anniversary of the signing of the Protocol on Environmental protection to the Antarctic Treaty. In this Declaration the Parties reaffirm their strong and unwavering commitment to the objectives and purposes of the Antarctic Treaty and its Environmental Protocol, which set out principles on Cooperation in the planning and conduct of activities in the Antarctic Treaty area, and prohibit any activity relating to mineral resources, other than scientific research; as well as pledge to further strengthen their efforts to preserve and protect the Antarctic terrestrial and marine environments, bearing in mind the designation of Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science.

A new declaration on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty will be adopted at the next Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting to be held in Prague (Czech Republic) in July 2019.

Website of the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty

NASC Bilateral Agreements on Scientific and Technical Cooperation

The main tasks of international scientific and technical cooperation in Antarctica are:

  • implementation of joint of fundamental and applied research projects from the priority directions of development of science and technology, publication of research results in rated professional journals, academic exchange and advanced training of scientific personnel;
  • optimization of human and material resources involved in expeditions; providing transportation and accommodation of personnel and cargo on board ships and at Antarctic stations of partner countries.

Considering this, the State institution National Scientific Antarctic Center has concluded framework bilateral agreements with scientific institutions of 16 states, which in view of their scientific and technical potential and geographical location should be grouped as follows:

  1. The leading countries of the Euro-Atlantic region with developed national Antarctic programs, cooperation with which ensures the deep integration of Ukrainian scientists into the international scientific space (UK, USA).
  2. Central and Eastern European countries with a similar level of development of National Antarctic Programs, cooperation with which provides deepening of regional cooperation (Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Latvia, Turkey, etc.).
  3. Latin American countries, the material and technical base of which makes them the main logistics partners of Ukraine in view of the maintenance supply of Ukrainian Antarctic Expeditions (Argentina, Chile, and Peru).

Scientific, technical and logistical cooperation with the listed states is of strategic importance, since all of them, including Ukraine, have or plan to construct stations or have declared their scientific interests in the Antarctic Peninsula region.

The number of international scientific projects is planned to be expanded, first of all with the scientific organizations of the states which have recently joined the Antarctic Treaty and are interested in carrying out joint research activities in Antarctica, which is a prerequisite for their full legal status of Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty.

Reporting and exchange of information with international organizations operating in the Antarctic Treaty System

Article VII of the Treaty requires each Party to freely exchange information about its activities by giving advance notice of

(a) all expeditions to and within Antarctica, on the part of its ships or nationals, and all expeditions to Antarctica organized in or proceeding from its territory;

(b) all stations in Antarctica occupied by its nationals; and

(c) any military personnel or equipment intended to be introduced by it into Antarctica”.

This requirement was later elaborated in various measures of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. The Environment Protocol of 1991 added important information exchange obligations on environmental matters. The information to be submitted can be divided into three categories:

  • Pre-season information
  • Annual report
  • Permanent information

Under direction of the ATCM the Secretariat has developed the Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES) as a central repository for this information.

Once a year (by 1Octoberof the current year) Ukraine submits an annual report and updates operational information (ship’s route, national expeditions, non-governmental expeditions), information on environmental protection (permitting system, area protection and management, relevant national legislation), scientific information (scientific projects carried out at Vernadsky station, availability of automatic registration stations / observatories).

Full information:

Annual National Reports of Ukraine to SCAR: