50 years of success in the Antarctic can provide a blueprint for the rest of the world

The Smithsonian is hosting an international conference today through Thursday, Dec.3, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty. The treaty, which was negotiated during the height of the Cold War, set aside the Antarctic–encompassing nearly 10 percent of the Earth–as the first international area managed in the interest of all mankind.

The conference event will be attended by diplomats, scientists, legislators, historians and others from around the world. Keynote speakers include John P. Holdren, Science Adviser to President Obama, and HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. The participants will study how this successful treaty can provide a blueprint for international cooperation for the future governance of regions and resources beyound national. International spaces, such as the Arctic, the deep seas and international fishing grounds, cover nearly 75 percent of the Earth’s surface and are likely to increase in importance as issues such as the effects of climate change and the drain on natural resources increase. 

In this video, Michael Lang, director of the Marine Science Department and the Institution’s Scientific Diving Officer, explains the success of the treaty in preserving the Antarctic for research and other peaceful purposes.

Posted: 30 November 2009
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Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.