Following the ratification of the Antarctic Treaty in 1961, the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) developed as the governing structure of the southern continent. This chapter suggests that members of the ATS retained their political influence through ongoing assertions of environmental authority. In the years immediately following the ratification of the treaty, utilitarian conservation was one of the main guiding principles for activities in the continent. Consultative members of the ATS signed a number of conservation conventions and began to negotiate a minerals regime for Antarctica. In the face of growing opposition from both the Non-Aligned Movement and environmental organizations, however, members of the ATS shifted their approach toward a strategy of preservation. By the terms of the 1991 Madrid Environmental Protocol, all economic minerals activities were prohibited for a period of at least fifty years, and the continent became one of the most protected environments anywhere on the planet.
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