HELSINKI, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The 45th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) kicked off here on Tuesday, attracting around 400 leading experts on Antarctica research.
The most critical issues on the agenda include climate change and its impacts on Antarctica, and tourism in Antarctica.
The ATCM is an annual decision-making mechanism established under the Antarctic Treaty. It is an important intergovernmental, multilateral conference on Antarctic international governance.
The treaty has proven its strength as a treaty of peace and cooperation, Johanna Sumuvuori, state secretary to the Finnish minister for foreign affairs, said at the opening plenary. "It ensures environmental protection for an entire continent and dedicates it to scientific research."
"It is essential to maintain the integrity of the Antarctic system and ensure that Antarctica remains a peaceful continent where international cooperation can thrive," Sumuvuori said.
Suomivuori noted that although the Arctic and the Antarctic are in many ways different, they have many factors in common. Climate changes manifest most clearly and with stronger effects in the polar regions. However, the effects are not limited to these regions, as sea level rise caused by the melting floor of ice has global repercussions.
The Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington on Dec. 1, 1959 by 12 countries and entered into force in 1961. The total number of parties to the treaty is now 56. China acceded to the treaty in 1983 and became a consultative party in 1985.