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

Since the early inroads of the beginning of the twentieth century, Antarctica has become a vast laboratory for academic experiments. The growing number of research stations has led to pollution from refuse, technical waste, and fuel residue. Ratified in 1998, the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol) details, in a legally binding way, environmental protection measures previously agreed upon by the parties to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. Through the Protocol, the parties commit themselves to a comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems, emphasizing the Antarctic Treaty’s designation of Antarctica as a natural reserve dedicated to peace and science.

The extraction of resources has been prohibited for the next fifty years. Still, a number of environmental concerns remain, in particular the effects of global warming on Antarctica’s natural environment.

Further Readings: 
  • Walton, D. W. H., and J. Shears. "The Need for Environmental monitoring in Antarctica: Baselines, Environmental Impact Assessment, Accidents and Footprints." International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry 55 (1993): 77-90. doi:10.1080/03067319408026210.