On this day, 1st December 1959, the Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington by the twelve countries whose scientists had been active in and around Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-58.
The treaty is comprised of fourteen articles which control activities on the Antarctic continent, and which stipulate that Antarctica should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes such as scientific research. The Treaty established Antarctica as a military-free zone, forbidding military presence and all testing of weapons of any sort, although it permitted the use of military personnel or equipment for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes. In addition, the treaty stipulated that previous territorial claims remain unaffected by the Treaty, but that no new claims can be made.
The main objective of the treaty is to ensure in the interests of all humankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.
The State Library of New South Wales holds a large collection of photographs and manuscripts pertaining to the exploration and scientific study of Antarctica.