Authored by HH Princess Abeer Al Saud
No sound, just the wind. Silence, just the assuring pattern of snow crushed underfoot.
This is Antarctica, a land where humans have conducted much more research than we have had war. Here, it would be not only impractical to fight a battle, but illegal as well.
That is thanks to the Antarctic Treaty System. First passed in 1959, and since approved by 56 different parties, the Antarctic Treaty System has ensured that in one place on Earth, there will be no conflict; Antarctica is managed as a place for peace and science. Because of the foresight of our leaders nearly 65 years ago, Antarctica remains the most peaceful of all of earth’s continents.
Still, it is worth thinking about what may come next. Throughout most of our lives, we have been able to count on peace in Antarctica, because of these treaties. Like most treaties, though, the Antarctic Treaty System comes with an expiry attached.
In 2048, what will we do? What will happen then? It may seem like a long way off, but the day is approaching. 24 years: that is how much time we have to figure this one out.
Ask yourself how confident you feel that we will be able to agree, as a global community, on what to do with Antarctica in the next half of this century. If you feel very confident, that is a good sign.
Multilateralism does still exist in 2023, after all. In Antarctica, where one is in complete isolation and remote from any civilization, people who are usually in conflict on land are working together, collaborating, and engaging in advancing scientific research for the betterment of the planet. All the evidence that we need is out there, among the frozen snowscapes, where only the most resilient fish swim, and the hardiest mosses survive, on icy land that no army this century has seized. There, we find our relief – knowing that because we have done this thing together before, we can do it together again.
Photo Credit: HH Princess Abeer Al Saud
Peace in Antarctica, in turbulent times, should serve as a reminder that for us, as long as we keep engaging, peace everywhere is always possible.
It’s time to make a peace pact with all creatures. It’s time to make a peace pact with nature.