Message on the 25th Anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty

November 26, 1984

I am delighted to send greetings to all the scientists and station personnel of every nation in Antarctica as we mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty, sometimes called the Washington Treaty.

On December 1, 1959, in Washington, D.C., the twelve nations then active in Antarctica pledged themselves to an imaginative experiment in international cooperation and understanding. The Antarctic Treaty, signed that day, reserves a major region of our planet exclusively for scientific research and other peaceful endeavors. The Treaty bans all military activities, including the testing of weapons in Antarctica, and prohibits nuclear explosions and the disposal of radioactive wastes there. It guarantees the freedom of scientific research and establishes a consultative mechanism to allow the Treaty system to meet new challenges and adapt to new circumstances. To achieve these objectives, it embodies unique conflict-avoidance provisions permitting countries which disagree over the legal status of Antarctica to work together harmoniously.

Now a quarter century later, we can all take pride in the accomplishments and vitality of this important treaty system. It has fully realized its objectives of maintaining Antarctica as an area free of conflict and devoted to peaceful international cooperation. Membership in the Treaty system has continued to expand and, within this system, effective steps are being taken to ensure that new activities in Antarctica are managed in a responsible fashion and do not threaten Antarctica's environment. The Antarctic Treaty represents an outstanding example of how countries with diverse political perspectives and interests -- East and West, North and South -- can work together for the benefit of all.

The Antarctic Treaty incorporates and extends to the realm of international relations the spirit of practical cooperation which scientists working in Antarctica have displayed from the earliest explorations onward. It is fitting, therefore, to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Treaty by saluting the scientists and station personnel whose exciting and important work in Antarctica continue to reflect the universal ideals reflected in the Treaty. I commend your commitment to the search for knowledge and send my best wishes to all of you for a productive season.

/s/Ronald Reagan

The White House,

November 26, 1984.

Note: As printed above, the message follows the White House press release, which was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on November 28.