On December 1st 1959, 12 nations signed the Antarctic Treaty, a document declaring that Antarctica would be off limits to military activity and setting it aside as a place for peace and scientific discoveries. Since 2010, December 1st has been celebrated each year to mark this milestone of peace and to inspire future decisions. Sixty years on, the Antarctic Treaty has expanded to include 54 countries and is a rare example of international cooperation. The Treaty covers much of the politics, activities and responsibilities within the Antarctic continent and waters south of 60 degrees latitude. For example, all scientific observations should be made freely available to all researchers, no military bases or weapons testing are allowed, and the dumping or burning of any rubbish is prohibited.
Every year since 2015 the United Kingdom Polar Network (UKPN) have organised an outreach project – the Antarctica Day Flags Initiative – with the aim to spread the word about this world-wide collaboration and to inspire future generations. As Antarctica does not have its own official flag, schools are asked to design one which they believe symbolises this continent. The flags are then paired with researchers and station staff that are heading down to Antarctica for the Austral Summer (November-January). The flags are then transported all the way to Antarctica with these “flag bearers”. Upon the flags’ return, schools receive proof of travel with a certificate and photos of their journey.
This year, over 400 students from Southmoor Academy entered the competition with some amazing and well-considered examples of creativity and design. Mrs Maw had the difficult task of selecting four winners; Isabella Peacock (Yr 8), Alice MacNab (Yr 7), Ruby Currer (Yr8) and Dylan Camaeron(Yr 8). Their flags will be heading south over the next couple of weeks, and we’ll see them in Antarctica very soon!