Who owns Antarctica? The politics of the frozen continent

Sovereignty of Antarctica

Faramiñán explains that Antarctica sovereignty has historically been claimed by many states: “Now these demands have been ‘frozen’ because a cooperation criterion has been established thanks to the Antarctic Treaty”.

The first states to claim Antarctica are nearby states like Chile and Argentina during the 1940s. In fact, before the signing of the treaty, different proposals took place to define its sovereignty, as Faramiñán details us: “There is the Theory of the Sectors, which designs an imaginary triangle whose epicenter is the South Pole.

There is another proposal elaborated by Pinochet de la Barra, the Quadrant Theory, based on criteria of a geographical nature: the South American quadrant, the Pacific, the Australian, and the African. For their part, France and Norway speak of the theory of discovery or symbolic occupation ”.

To avoid the discussion about who should have sovereignty over these lands, this international cooperation system was established, constituted by the signing of the treaty. “A consultative status is also established – hence the meetings held every two years – and all the member states affirm that they agree to speak of the interest of humanity and the freedom of scientific research in the continent, guaranteeing its peaceful uses. ”, Explains the expert. In essence, the Antarctic Treaty constitutes a legal tool that establishes a peaceful coexistence between states.

Although Antarctica is the only continent in the world – as we pointed out at the beginning of the article – that does not have a native population, there are many bases from different countries, some of them permanent and others temporary. “Among the established bases, in principle, the military aims are denied by the countries,” says Faramiñán.

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