Focus on Antarctica

44th Antarctic Treaty Conference in Berlin
[24. May 2022] 

Since the Antarctic Treaty entered into force in 1961, representatives of the participating nations have met regularly for the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM). The 44th ATCM, from 23 May till 2 June 2022, is being hosted by Germany in Berlin. Matters on the agenda include topical questions relating to Antarctica and further developments on the coldest continent on our planet. The Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) presents the exhibition "Experience Antarctica" at ATCM. This shows the delegates of the Antarctic Treaty States Germany's achievements in the field of science and environmental protection in Antarctica.

The highlight of the Antarctic exhibition is the Kabause: a mobile shelter that offers protection to researchers on polar expeditions. The replica of a cabin impressively shows how scientists live in the Antarctic, sometimes for several weeks in a very confined space. At the opening of the 44th ATCM, State Secretary Jennifer Lee Morgan from the German Foreign Office visited the exhibition together with AWI Director Antje Boetius.

Antarctica is the only one of the world’s continents which has no governments, parliaments or central organisations to take legally binding decisions. Instead, this task falls to the Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty with voting rights, who discuss and take the relevant decisions annually at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.

One of the most successful international agreements

The Antarctic Treaty holds a special place in international politics. It is regarded as one of the most successful of all international agreements. Thanks to the Treaty, Antarctica remains to this day a demilitarised continent free of nuclear weapons. At the same time, the Treaty created a new dimension of multilateral cooperation on the basis of joint research. The result is peaceful scientific and logistical cooperation between the Contracting Parties in Antarctica “in the interest of all mankind”, as it says in the Preamble to the Treaty. Many more recent agreements have been oriented to the ideal of the Antarctic Treaty.

Advice on environmental issues

Following the recognition that the Antarctic environment needed to be protected, the Protocol on Enbrionmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed in the early 1990s. This Protocol designates Antarctica as “a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”. Even today, it is considered to be a prime example of international environmental protection.

More information on ATCM:



AWI Press Office