800.014 Antarctic/8–948

The Department of State to the Australian Embassy 1



The following considerations, in briefest outline, have led the United States Government to the conclusion that the establishment of an international status for the Antarctic area is the most practicable and preferable method of solving the problem of conflicting and potentially conflicting claims in that area.

The prestige of several nations is engaged in the area. Very difficult problems would be posed, should a division among the various national sovereignties be sought through the International Court. The foreseeable values of Antarctica are predominantly scientific rather than strategic or economic. An international regime would be well calculated to promote the exploitation of these scientific values. Internationalization, therefore, appears to present the best possibility of removing the area from the field of present or potential future contention, at the same time preserving to the interested nations control over the strategic use and possible economic value of the area.

The conflict of interests, the friction and disagreement generated by the conflict of claims, and the unsettled status of Antarctica perturbs otherwise amicable relations and is, moreover, susceptible of exploitation [Page 997] to the disadvantage of the interested nations by nations and groups who hope to profit from discord.

An international administration for the Antarctic continent and sub-Antarctic islands would promote the further systematic scientific exploration and investigation of Antarctic phenomena. It would facilitate the correlation of meteorological observations of practical significance in long range weather forecast, particularly for countries of the Southern Hemisphere. A settlement by internationalization should, as stated above, also remove the area from the field of present or potential future conflict, at the same time preserving to the interested nations control over any actual or potential values which the area may contain, while widening the sphere of friendly, cooperative international endeavor.

The United States hopes that the interested nations will endeavor to agree on some form of internationalization of the area. In order to provide a basis for discussion, a plan for an international administration of the area has been prepared. However, the United States will welcome suggestions from Australia, and will gladly discuss any alternative proposals.


Draft Agreement Prepared by the Department of State2


Draft Agreement on Antarctica

Whereas explorers and scientists of the signatory states have occupied a leading position in the exploration and investigation of the Antarctic regions and have explored and charted extensive areas thereof;

Whereas vast areas have not yet been explored and charted, and large portions of the coasts are inaccessible by ship at all times because of ice conditions in contiguous seas;

[Page 998]

Whereas scientific data that may be obtained only in the Antarctic regions are urgently needed because of their planetary significance in many fields of knowledge, including meteorology, terrestrial magnetism, studies of cosmic rays, geology, and biology, some of the results of which may prove to be of great practical value in relation to navigation by sea and air, telecommunications, agriculture and other human activities in many parts of the world;

Whereas facilitation of comprehensive scientific exploration and observation is of prime importance in the Antarctic regions, requiring encouragement in the establishment of fixed stations for scientific observations wherever it is physically feasible and advisable to locate and support them, and likewise requiring unhindered mobility of parties penetrating very large interior regions of the continental icecap by air and surface transport;

Whereas Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, the Kingdom of Norway, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America claim portions of Antarctica; and

Whereas these states have consulted as to the best means of facilitating and expediting scientific operations in the Antarctic regions, and recognize that the historic pattern of establishing mutually exclusive territorial claims manifested in other parts of the world is practically inapplicable in the Antarctic regions and that it would tend to impede scientific work in which they are all interested,

Now, Therefore, these states have agreed to establish a special regime in the Antarctic regions under the following terms:

article i

The territorial scope of the special regime established by this agreement shall be the following: the Antarctic continent and all islands south of 60 degrees south latitude, except the South Shetland and South Orkney Groups.

article ii

By the conclusion of the present agreement, the parties hereto merge and join their claims to, and interests in, specific portions of the area covered by this agreement and vest such individual claims and interests in the special regime hereby established, each agreeing not to seek a division of the territory in the area, but to join with the others for the purposes embodied in this agreement.

article iii

1. There is hereby created an Antarctic Commission which shall constitute the actual government of the territories under its charge [Page 999] with full executive and administrative powers. The Commission shall be comprised of one representative of each participating state.

2. The Commission shall meet at such place as it deems appropriate and at such times as it may deem necessary. It shall adopt its own rules of procedure. Decisions of the Commission on substantive matters shall be made by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting.

3. The Commission shall appoint a Secretary and authorize the appointment by the Secretary of such staff as it shall deem necessary. The Commission shall prescribe the conditions of employment of the Secretary and staff.

4. The Secretary shall maintain offices at such place and perform such functions as the Commission shall direct.

5. The cost of administering the special regime, including the expenses of the Commission and Secretary, shall be borne in equal shares by the parties hereto.

article iv

The Commission shall cooperate with appropriate organs and specialized agencies of the United Nations and with international scientific bodies on matters of mutual concern.

article v

1. The Commission shall, through a scientific board or other appropriate agency, draw up plans for exploration, investigation, and scientific and technical development which may be carried out jointly by some or all of the signatories of this agreement, and into which projects of individual member states may be fitted. The Commission shall prescribe appropriate procedures and conditions under which states, and privately supported expeditions, may conduct scientific investigations, develop resources and carry on other activities consistent with the purposes of this agreement.

2. The parties hereto agree, upon approval of plans by the Commission, to insure that undertakings in the area shall be consistent with these plans. They agree also to foster individually and jointly the establishment of facilities and the conduct of scientific investigations.

3. The parties hereto likewise agree to foster, under such rules as the Commission may prescribe, free access to, and freedom of transit through or over the area. The Commission may prescribe that expeditions and stations within the area display an emblem representing the international commission as well as any national emblem or flag which they may display.

[Page 1000]

article vi

The signatory states, as authorized by the Commission, may take all necessary measures in the territory for the maintenance of international peace and security.

article vii

The terms of the present agreement shall hot be altered or amended without the consent of the aforementioned states.

article viii

This agreement shall enter into force when all of the aforesaid states shall have become parties thereto by due constitutional process.

  1. Identic aide-mémoire, together with copies of the enclosed Draft Agreement on Antarctica, were addressed to the New Zealand Legation and the Argentine, Chilean, British, French, and Norwegian Embassies. This aide-mémoire is the same as that presented by Caspar D. Green to the Chilean and Argentine Foreign Ministries during his July visits to Santiago and Buenos Aires; see telegrams 495, July 19, from Santiago and 730, July 21, from Buenos Aires, p. 995. The Department’s action in circulating the aide-mémoire and accompanying Draft Agreement was reported in telegram 3164, August 10, to London, repeated as 308 to Oslo, 3051 to Paris, 726 to Buenos Aires, 302 to Santiago, 181 to Canberra, and 77 to Wellington, not printed (800.014/Antarctic/8–1048).
  2. This Draft Agreement is a redraft of the earlier text included as an enclosure to document PPS 31, June 9, p. 977. The revision was carried out in the Department of State during the month of July, particularly in the light of comments by the British Embassy. Telegram 3164, August 10, to London, commented as follows on the earlier reaction to this version of the Draft Agreement:

    “For your info Brit position now favorable (though UK hopes possibly to reserve two or three small islands); Chilean initial reaction negative but not categorical, One of its chief concerns being commitments to and necessity of dealing with Argentina; first Argentine reaction strongly unfavorable.” (800.014 Antarctic/8–1048)