German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) (1959) / Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (PEPAT) (1991)

Logo Antarctic Treaty System

Antarctic Treaty System (ATS)

Contracting parties:

Antarctic Treaty: 53 states, Germany has been a party since 1979 (as of February 2018), 34 states have signed the 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (PEPAT).


The Antarctic Treaty System applies to the area south of 60°S. It regulates international relations on the extra-territorial continent. The system aims to set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty and to ensure that Antarctica is used for peaceful purposes only. ATS explicitly prohibits all military activities. Through PEPAT, in particular, the parties further commit to the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems and to designate Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science.


In addition to the original Antarctic Treaty and PEPAT, the Antarctic Treaty System further comprises the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (CCAS, 1972) and the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR, 1980). The instrument of particular relevance to nature conservation is PEPAT, which establishes wide-ranging provisions designed to protect the Antarctic environment. It has six Annexes concerned with: environmental impact assessment; conservation of Antarctic fauna and flora; waste disposal and waste management; prevention of marine pollution; area protection and management; and environmental liability. The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM), which meets annually, is the principal decision-making forum of the Antarctic Treaty. The ATCM adopts recommendations developed by the Committee for Environmental Protection as concrete measures to implement the treaty system.

The German Act implementing the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (AUG), which entered into force in 1998, requires official authorization for all activities emanating from Germany.


Antarctic Treaty Secretariat
Av. Leandro N. Alem 884 - 4° Piso
C1001AAQ - Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: + 54 11 5169 1500
Fax: + 54 11 5169 1513

BfN activities:

BfN addresses issues of conservation concern under PEPAT by submitting official opinions, supports research activities to clarify matters of conservation interest, is involved in the management of protected areas, and participates in international bodies that administer Antarctica.

BfN is the German implementing authority for the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (CCAS).

Last Change: 09/04/2018