Germany's candidate Dr Manfred Reinke has made the running in the elections for a new Executive Secretary to head the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat. On 17 April 2009 the Plenary of the Consultative Meeting of Contracting Parties to the Antarctic Treaty announced in Baltimore (USA) that Manfred Reinke was the winning candidate.
The task of the Secretariat, which began work in September 2004, is to provide the Antarctic Treaty System with the necessary infrastructure. Germany acceded to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty in 1979. Some 48 countries are now Contracting Parties, of whom 28 enjoy voting rights by virtue of their own research activity in Antarctica. The Treaty permits the use of Antarctica for peaceful purposes only and explicitly prohibits any measures of a military nature. Since 1991 it has been supplemented by a Protocol intended to ensure comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment.
For many years Manfred Reinke has worked, ultimately as Scientific Associate of the Directorate, at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. His predecessor was Johannes Huber from the Netherlands. Manfred Reinke will take up his new duties in August 2009 and serve a four-year term. The Antarctic Treaty Secretariat is based in Buenos Aires.
The election of Manfred Reinke is not only a tribute to a distinguished German researcher but also a token of international esteem for Germany's commitment to Polar research. This commitment is impressively documented by a host of research projects such as the highly successful research vessel “Polarstern”, the innovative “Aurora Borealis” research vessel project, the Franco-German AWIPEV research base on Spitzbergen, the recently opened Antarctic research station “Neumayer III” and the many workshops, conferences and exhibitions held in Germany on Polar issues.