Towards Firmer Institutionalization of the ATS? Future Role of the Consultative Meeting and the Issue of a Permanent Secretariat

  • Kurt Messer
  • Ralf Breth


The main institutional provisions are contained in Article IX of the Antarctic Treaty (AT) which established Consultative Meetings and defined which states are entitled to attend such meetings. The system is open and provides for an increase in the number of consultative states. When the AT was concluded in 1959 it dealt with key questions that were deemed in need of settlement at the time, with a view to establishing a formal basis for fruitful cooperation in the sixth continent — that is, the questions of the non-militarization and non-nuclearization of the Antarctic region, keeping the question of territorial claims open and freedom to engage in scientific research and cooperation in this area. The manageable group of the 12 states signatories to the AT at the time restricted itself to the forum of a conference of states to take place at regular intervals by establishing Consultative Meetings for taking key decisions and further developing the ATS. The Treaty does not even lay down how often Consultative Meetings should take place. With two exceptions, all such meetings have taken place at biennial intervals. Although the question of introducing annual meetings, for example, has been discussed several times, the biennial cycle has so far been retained. Exceptions to this rule may be settled on an adhoc basis at the Consultative Meetings.


Host Country Contracting State Depositary Power Host Government Antarctic State 
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Copyright information

© The Fridtjof Nansen Institute 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kurt Messer
    • 1
  • Ralf Breth
    • 2
  1. 1.Head of Section for Antarctic Conferences and Special International LawGerman Ministry of Foreign AffairsAustralia
  2. 2.Section for Antarctic Conferences and Special International LawAustralia

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