The federal government has put in a request to become a full-fledged, voting member of the international treaty that governs the way states behave in Antarctica. Canada will find out whether it’s in, or out, next week. The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 committed 12 countries to keeping the continent free of military and nuclear activity, free of feuds over who owns which chunk of it, and open for scientific exploration: the United States, the Soviet Union (now Russia), Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., France, South Africa, Norway, Japan, and Belgium. Another 16 countries have since joined as full “consultative members.” Canada has been a “non-consultative” member of the treaty since 1988, which means that Canadian diplomats can attend meetings of the treaty partners, but cannot vote on decisions about what should and should not be allowed to take place on the continent.
The federal government has finally applied to become a full “consultative” member, and the other members will vote on its bid during an annual meeting of the treaty partners in Germany that begins May 23 and stretches until June 2.