ANTARCTIC TREATY (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – IR)

News-CRUX-10     21st May 2024        

Context: India is hosting the 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM 46), also known as the Antarctic Parliament, from May 20-30 in Kochi.

Antarctic Treaty

  • Origin:  The Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington on December 1, 1959, by 12 countries involved in the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-58.
  • Countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the USSR, the United Kingdom, and the United States were the original signatories.
  • Global Acceptance: The treaty came into force in 1961, and a total of 56 countries including India, in 1983  have joined it since then.
  • Diverse Representation: The Treaty's signatories encompass a diverse range of nations worldwide, emphasizing a global consensus on its principles.

oThe Antarctic Treaty, which was signed during the Cold War, effectively designated Antarctica as a “no man’s land”, outside the bounds of international geopolitical competition.

  • Key features of the treaty:

oAntarctica shall be used only for peaceful purposes, and no militarisation or fortification shall be allowed.

oAll signatories will have the freedom to carry out scientific investigations, and should share plans for scientific programmes, extend required cooperation, and freely make available the data gathered.

oNuclear testing or disposal of radioactive waste materials shall be prohibited anywhere in Antarctica.

India in Antarctica

  • Party Status: Since 1983, India has been a consultative party to the Antarctic Treaty, allowing active participation in decision-making processes concerning Antarctica.
  • Scientific Research Initiatives: India initiated scientific research in Antarctica in 1981, marking a significant step towards understanding the region's ecology and geology.
  • The establishment of research stations has facilitated continuous exploration and study.
  • Establishment of Research Stations:

oDakshin Gangotri: India's first Antarctica research station, operational from 1983 to 1990, was situated in Queen Maud Land, approximately 2,500 km from the South Pole.

oMaitri: Established in 1989 in the Schirmacher Oasis, Maitri serves as a vital hub for scientific endeavors, benefiting from the area's unique geography.

  • Bharati: Inaugurated in 2012, Bharati, located on the Prydz Bay coast, emphasizes oceanographic and geologic research, enhancing India's multidisciplinary approach to Antarctic studies.