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Date: Fri, 2 May 97 11:07:25 CDT
From: rich@pencil.gwu.edu (Rich Winkel)
Subject: U.S. Ratifies Historic Antarctic Protection Agreement

/** headlines: 184.0 **/
** Topic: U.S. Ratifies Historic Antarctic Protection Agreement **
** Written 6:06 PM May 1, 1997 by econet in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 2:49 PM Apr 28, 1997 by antarctica@igc.org in reg.antarctica */
/* ---------- "U.S. ratifies Antarctic Protocol" ---------- */

U.S. ratifies historic Antarctic Protocol

For Immediate Release. April 18, 1997

By Antarctica Project and Greenpeace

WASHINGTON, April 18 -- The Antarctica Project and Greenpeace today hailed US ratification of the Antarctic Environmental Protocol, a landmark agreement designed to provide comprehensive protection of the world's last great wilderness.

Of the 26 nations which must ratify the Protocol before it becomes law, all but two, Russia and Japan, have done so. Entry into force of the Protocol is necessary to safeguard Antarctica's status as a global wilderness area and scientific laboratory.

"The U.S. has been a traditional leader in Antarctic affairs and today maintains the largest presence on the continent," said Beth Marks Clark, Director of the Washington, DC-based environmental group, The Antarctica Project. "U.S. ratification will provide the momentum for Japan and Russia to do the same, enabling entry into force of the Protocol."

For the last 13 years, Greenpeace has campaigned for Antarctica to be declared a World Park, conceived to be a legally enforceable, internationally accepted administrative system for the protection of the Antarctic wilderness. In 1987, Greenpeace constructed and maintained the first and only non-governmental base in Antarctica devoted exclusively to research and preservation of the environment.

"This chapter closes the book on a 13-year campaign to stop the exploitation of the world's last pristine wilderness," said Barbara Dudley, Executive Director of Greenpeace. "This true display of international cooperation creates one spot on earth that is completely undisturbed, a zone of peace that is free of nuclear and other weapons, and of all military and exploitative activities."

Because the Protocol is not a self-executing treaty, last year President Clinton signed "The Antarctic Science, Tourism, and Conservation Act of 1996." This bill implements the US obligations under the Protocol, which, among other things, prohibits mining in Antarctica for a minimum of 50 years and establishes new standards for environmental protection for 10 percent of the earth. The Antarctica Project's Clark praised the Vice President for his role in this effort. Since he served in the Senate, Vice President Gore has had a long-standing interest in, and has worked for, the preservation of this special region of the earth.

Antarctica plays a central role in regulating the earth's environmental processes and possesses an abundance of fish and wildlife. The untrammeled nature of the region also provides unique opportunities for research that is crucial to the understanding and monitoring of global climate change, ozone depletion, and atmospheric pollution.

While international agreements of the past six decades have kept Antarctica free of conflict, human pressures on the continent's environment have grown rapidly. Hence, the need for the Protocol. In addition to affirming Antarctica as a "natural reserve, devoted to peace and science," the Protocol contains a series of specific rules on waste disposal, environmental impact assessment, marine pollution, and the conservation of wildlife.

The 26 nations active in the Antarctic are: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, People's Republic of China, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay.

Note: Photos and video footage of Antarctica are available from Greenpeace.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Beth Marks Clark, The Antarctica Project (202) 544-0236 or antarctica@igc.org; or Gerry Leape, Greenpeace (202) 319-2401 or gerry.leape@wdc.greenpeace.org.
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