Czech Republic gained the right to participate in decision-making about Antarctica
29.05.2013 / 16:44
As a State Party to the Antarctic Treaty, the Czech Republic was granted a Consultative Status on May 29, 2013. This higher institutional status confers a State Party the right to participate in decision-making about Antarctica and its future.
The Czech Republic has thus become the 29th State in the world that has joined the group of decision-makers within the Antarctic Treaty System. The Consultative Status had not been accorded to any State for almost a decade. This full-fledged position is granted only to States that conduct substantial scientific research activity in Antarctica, such as the establishment of a scientific station or the despatch of a scientific expedition.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vladimír Galuška, Head of the Czech Delegation to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting held in May in Brussels, notes:
"In view of today´s geopolitical, environmental and commercial challenges facing Antarctica, the acknowledgment of the Consultative Status is a great success for the foreign policy of the Czech Republic as well as for the Czech scientific community whose Antarctic research enjoys an international recognition".
The Czech Republic has carried out Antarctic research since 1994 and, since 2006, has operated a scientific base "Johann Gregor Mendel Station" located on James Ross Island. It had been the only State that possessed its own polar base and did not enjoy the Consultative Status. The possibility to take part in decision-making relating to the regulation of current activities on the continent as well as future prospects thus represents a logical outcome of the long-term activities of the Czech Republic.
Antarctica has been "internationalized" and declared as a continent used "exclusively for peaceful purposes" and open to "freedom of scientific investigation" in the interest of "all mankind", as laid down in the Antarctic Treaty adopted in 1959. Previously asserted claims to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica are legally "frozen" and cannot be activated while the Treaty is in force. Rules concerning the use and exploration of the continent as well as its protection as world natural reserve are thus adopted by international community through States with Consultative Status.
The Czech Republic will have the power to participate in decision-making process relating to the regulation of scientific research and use of its results, management of human activities in Antarctica, tourism and other commercial activities, new challenges and emerging threats facing the Antarctic continent and its international regime.