The United States hosted the 32nd
Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland from April 6-17, 2009. The meeting began with the first ever joint session of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and the Arctic Council hosted at the Department of State and included an address by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting was attended by nearly 400 diplomats, Antarctic program managers and logistics experts, and polar scientists from 47 countries, including 28 Consultative Parties with a scientific presence in the Antarctic, to discuss several issues, including environmental protection, the advancement of science, and the management of tourism.
At the meeting, major objectives set by Secretary Clinton in her April 6 speech were met. The Parties agreed by consensus to binding rules related to tourism, including a prohibition on landings by tourists from ships carrying more than 500 passengers, and a requirement that ships land no more than 100 passengers at a time. These rules will become binding once approved by all 28 Consultative Parties. The Parties also agreed to support efforts at the International Maritime Organization to promote safety of Antarctic shipping, including stronger lifeboat protections for tourist vessels. In addition, they agreed to work toward protection of the entire Antarctic ecosystem.
On April 6, the ministers issued two declarations, one supporting polar science efforts which are key to understanding climate change, and another, affirming key elements of the Antarctic Treaty. The declarations are available at: http://www.state.gov/e/oes/rls/other/2009/121340.htm
Next steps will include securing ratification of the tourism rules within the United States and in other countries, as well as undertaking efforts to promote shipping safety within the International Maritime Organization.
The Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty are: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay.