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Antarctica covers an area of 14 million kilometres and is the coldest landmass on earth. It has a unique legal status established by the Antarctic Treaty signed in Washington on 1 December 1959. France is one of the 12 original signatory States. Antarctica is to be used for peaceful purposes only. The Treaty establishes a status quo regarding territorial claims on all or a part of the continent. It establishes freedom of scientific investigation and promotion of international scientific cooperation in this area.

The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR) and the Protocol on Environmental Protection of 4 October 1991, known as the Madrid Protocol, supplements the exceptional mechanism of the Treaty by establishing a regime for the protection of the Antarctic environment and ecosystems.

French scientists are building on the long history which has made France an active polar nation on a scientific level and on political and diplomatic levels. France remains attentive to the preservation of and compliance with provisions of the Antarctic Treaty and all of the agreements relating to the protection of its environment.