Antarctica is probably the world’s last great wilderness. Before the 20th century, seven sovereign states had made eight territorial claims in Antarctica and conflict arose. In 1959, the Antarctic Treaty agreement was signed by 12 nations, stating that Antarctica doesn’t belong to anyone. The three key points include: Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. Any measures of a military nature are prohibited.
The present Treaty shall not prevent the use of military personnel or equipment for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes. No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting, or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica.
The Treaty now has 28 Consultative Parties and 22 Non-Consultative Signatory Parties on the basis of being among the original signatories or conducting substantial research there. There are currently 70 permanent research stations scattered across the continent of Antarctica. As the world’s last great wilderness, Antarctica has reserves of oil and coal, and the present Antarctic ice sheet accounts for 70% of the Earth’s fresh water. Whether it’s for scientific research or because of its natural resources, Antarctica has attracted the attention of many countries. Climate change is predicted to increase human activities in Antarctica, so further International conflicts would seem to be unavoidable.