The Antarctic Treaty at 60: Reflections, Current Realities and Future Challenges

Date & time
9am–12.30pm Wednesday 23 June 2021

The ANU College of Law Moot Courts
Law Building #6

The Centre for International and Public Law
(02) 6125 5375

Presented by The Centre for International and Public Law (CIPL)

CIPL Symposium
The First ATCM
Opening day of the First Consultative Meeting of the Antarctic Treaty, Parliament House, Canberra, 10 July 1961 (Australian Government, ATS Image Bank,

The Antarctic Treaty celebrates the 60th anniversary of its entry into force on 23 June 2021. The Treaty names Canberra as the place of the first meeting of the parties, and this occurred at Parliament House on 10-24 July 1961.

The Treaty, negotiated in 1959, is the sole example of an international legal instrument that governs a single continent. It has been very successful in diminishing sovereignty tensions over Antarctica and ensuring the continent has been reserved for scientific research, peaceful purposes, and environmental protection. Over the 60 years there have been a number of tensions between the Antarctic Treaty parties, most notably with respect to whether mining should be permitted.

In 1991 the Madrid Protocol to the Treaty placed a prohibition on mining activities and emphasised Antarctic environmental protection. However, the mining ban could be subject to review in 2048. The seminar aims to review the history of the Antarctic Treaty and reflect upon the strengths and weaknesses of the associated Antarctic Treaty System. Australia’s role will be particularly considered. The future of the Antarctic Treaty will also be assessed. Speakers will be asked to consider whether a treaty negotiated at the height of the Cold War is capable of dealing with new environmental and geopolitical challenges in the 2020s and beyond.

Past Sessions

Reflections and Current Realities

Panel session

9.00am to 10.30am Wednesday 23 June 2021

Chair: Professor Donald R. Rothwell FAAL, ANU College of Law


  • Professor Lorraine Elliott, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Honorary Professor Richard Rowe PSM, ANU College of Law

Future Challenges

Panel session

11.00am to 12.30pm Wednesday 23 June 2021

Moderator: Professor Rory Medcalf, Director, ANU National Security College

Q&A chair: Ms Dayle Stanley, Director, Strategy and Engagement, Futures Hub, ANU National Security College


  • Dr Anthony Bergin, Senior Fellow, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)
  • Dr Elizabeth Buchannan, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University (Canberra)
  • Professor Donald R. Rothwell FAAL, ANU College of Law


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