HC Deb 12 December 1990 vol 182 cc421-2W
Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those countries proposing a protocol at the Antarctic conference in Chile and those Antarctic treaty consultative parties who support the proposal.

Mr. Garel-Jones

Argentina, Norway, Uruguay, the United Kingdom and the United States had proposed, before the meeting, that a protocol to the Antarctic treaty, together with annexes setting out detailed rules on specific activities, would provide a practical means of protecting the Antarctic environment.

This proposal, together with illustrative draft protocols tabled by the United Kingdom and United States of America, and a draft protocol tabled by New Zealand, together with a proposal for separate convention tabled by France and Australia, were discussed at the meeting. The outcome of these discussions is set out in paragraphs 18–20 of the report of the meeting as follows: 18. Detailed discussion of the various proposals led to the conclusion that there was unanimous support for the need to adopt a new legally binding international instrument for the protection of the Antarctic environment and its dependent and associated ecosystems. Although the proposed texts represented alternative options, there was a considerable measure of agreement as to the general structure of such a legal instrument. A member of one delegation, Mr. Rolf Trolle Andersen from Norway, presented, on a personal basis, a single text drawing upon the documents mentioned in paragraph 9 as well as on draft articles proposed in the Working Group I and sub-groups. 19. The Meeting agreed that this draft Protocol and Annexes should be attached to this Report as Annex F. Reflecting, as it does, the papers submitted and the discussions at the XIth Antarctic Treaty Special Consultative Meeting, it would form a valuable basis for further work to be undertaken at a future session of XIth Antarctic Treaty Special Consultative Meeting in 1991. It was understood that these texts would not prejudice the position of any government with regard to the issues addressed therein nor any proposals already made. 20. The Meeting noted that the present restraint on Antarctic mineral resource activities continues. In the context of future work on the issue addressed in Article 6 of the attached Protocol, a number of delegations expressed their strong preference for a permanent ban, others continued to see merit in CRAMRA, but there was a widespread willingness to consider a lengthy prohibition or moratorium. Several aspects of this issue, in particular the circumstances and modalities under which a prohibition might be reviewed or terminated needed further consideration. In regard to a moratorium, it was stressed that internationally agreed arrangements for taking decisions on mineral resource activities should be in place before the need for such decisions arises.

Mr. Barry Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Antarctic treaty negotiations.

Mr. Garel-Jones

The XIth special consultative meeting of the Antarctic treaty parties ended in Chile on 6 December. A copy of the interim report of the meeting is being placed in the Library of the House. When final texts of the annexes to the report are available, they will be added to the report.

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