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Frozen EmpiresAn Environmental History of the Antarctic Peninsula$
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Adrian Howkins

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190249144

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190249144.001.0001

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Antarctic Détente

Antarctic Détente

(p.130) 5 Antarctic Détente
Frozen Empires

Adrian Howkins

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the origins of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, which suspended sovereignty claims and reservations of rights to Antarctica and created “a continent dedicated to peace and science.” This treaty led to an immediate relaxation of political tensions in the Antarctic Peninsula region, although it did not fully resolve the underlying question of sovereignty. The chapter rejects the common assumption that the Antarctic Treaty represented the triumph of scientific idealism over political squabbling, and suggests instead that it represented a reformulation of imperial interests in the southern continent. Causes of the treaty included the refusal of Argentina and Chile to take the Antarctic sovereignty dispute to the international court of justice and shared opposition to United Nations involvement. The International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–58 did have a major role in the origins of the Antarctic Treaty, but not just because it fostered a sense of common scientific purpose.

Keywords:   Antarctic Treaty, International Geophysical Year, IGY, United Nations, Argentina, Chile

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