Speaking at a joint session of the Arctic Council and the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked on the benefits that have come about as a result of the Antarctic Treaty.
The Antarctic Treaty was established in 1959 and officially entered into force in 1961. A total of 46 countries have signed it, including the US.
The treaty was established to protect Antarctica and its wildlife from effects of military use and from testing of nuclear weapons. It also prohibits the disposal of radioactive waste in Antarctica.
The genius of the Antarctic Treaty lies in its relevance today, Clinton said in her remarks Monday.
It was written to meet the challenges of an earlier time, but it and its related instruments remain a key tool in our efforts to address an urgent threat of this time, climate change, which has already destabilized communities on every continent, endangered plant and animal species, and jeopardized critical food and water sources.
Climate change is shaping the future of our planet in ways we are still striving to understand, Clinton added.
But the research made possible within the framework of the Antarctic Treaty has shown us that catastrophic consequences await if we don't take action soon.
She said the US stands in strong support of both the Antarctic Treaty and its purpose: to maintain the Antarctica as a place of peace and to use the science that can only be performed there to benefit the entire planet.
Clinton further noted that President Barack Obama has sent to the Senate the Annex to the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty that deals with liability arising from environmental emergencies.
The president has urged the Senate, Clinton said, to give the Annex its consent so the United States can ratify it and we can take a major step forward.
The Antarctic Treaty is a product of far-sighted, visionary leaders from all walks of life, from government, from academia and science, from the private sector, and others who cared deeply about the future of this great continent to our south, Clinton added.
But it serves as a model. It is a living example of how we can form a vital partnership to meet the challenges of this time.
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