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Public Statements

Recognizing 50th Anniversary Of Antarctic Treaty

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, D.C.


Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

For half a century, the Antarctic Treaty has served as the indispensable element, allowing for the expansion of knowledge about that continent and its central role in the life of our planet. As stated in its preamble, the purpose of the treaty is to ensure that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes, the interests of science and the progress of all mankind.

That promise has been fulfilled, Mr. Speaker. The treaty is an enduring demonstration that international cooperation is not only possible across a broad and expanding range of subjects but also among an array of countries that in other areas have been strong competitors and even enemies.

The original seven signatories have since been joined by 40 more, which together represent the vast majority of the population of the world. The growing list of countries with active research efforts on the continent include the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Argentina, among others, underscoring the welcoming setting the treaty has created.

Once a mysterious and far-off land of seemingly marginal relevance to the world in which we live, half a century of scientific research has resulted in the universal recognition of Antarctica's global role. Although cooperation is not mandated, the treaty's promotion of the exchange of research, joint endeavors and free access to all areas of the continent and surrounding waters has resulted in an extraordinarily productive outpouring of knowledge about the continent and its direct impact on the life of our planet.

The treaty has been a laboratory for more than just science and research, however. It has also demonstrated that cooperation across a broad and expanding range of interests can occur without the need for international bureaucracy, bureaucrats or tribunals. The treaty itself was only the beginning. A long list of agreements followed that have promoted increasingly close cooperation and added additional protections for their continent, ranging from the convention for the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources to the protocol on environmental protection.

In this past half century, we have learned that although Antarctica can be an intimidating and even a harsh environment, it is also a fragile place which humans can easily degrade and even destroy. Thanks to the success of the Antarctic Treaty, we have gained countless benefits for all mankind, learned to care for a precious part of Earth and preserve this wonderful, irreplaceable inheritance for all generations to come.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


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