The question of Antarctica has been on the agenda of the UN
General Assembly since 1983. Some countries were making consistent
efforts to bring the question of Antarctica within the fold of the United
Nations. This was strongly resisted by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative
Parties. As a result, the resolutions on the question of Antarctica eluded
consensus in the past.
Following democratic elections in South Africa in April the
question of its participation in the Antarctic Treaty System was resolved.
This year the Antarctic Treaty Parties were flexible in agreeing to invite a
representative of Secretary General to attend the ATCM. Secretary
General of the UN has designated the Executive Director of UNEP to act
as the liaison between ATCPs and the UN.
The ATCPs collectively responded to the request of the
Secretary General for information on the state of the environment and in
and around Antarctica and its ecosystems. The report presented by the
Secretary General to the forty-ninth session of the General Assembly notes
that progress continues in the field of international cooperation towards an
improved understanding of the Antarctic environment and its dependent
and associated ecosystems. In particular, there is increased sensitivity to
the environmental consequences of activities in the Antarctic and a
growing effort to design and implement measures to prevent, or at least
mitigate, the adverse environmental effects of those activities.