The Antarctic Treaty was signed on December 1st, 1959, by twelve countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, French Republic, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Union of South Africa, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America), and came into force on June 23rd, 1961, after the above twelve countries ratified it. The Treaty applies to the area south of 60 degrees South latitude. The treaty’s goals are to demilitarise Antarctica and establish it as a zone for peaceful research, as well as to put any territorial sovereignty disputes to rest, ensuring international cooperation.
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On August 19, 1983, India signed the Antarctic Treaty. India is also a member of the National Antarctic Program’s Council of Managers. With active research stations such as Maitri in the Schirmacher Hills, Bharati in the Larsemann Hills, and Himadri in the Arctic, India has joined a select group of countries with multiple research stations in the Polar Region.
As officials, governments, and government priorities change over time, legislation will ensure programmatic continuity. This will also help to establish credibility and elevate status.
The following are the goals of this bill:
- Ensure that India fulfils its obligations under the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Convention of 1982, and the Antarctic Treaty Protocol on Environmental Protection of 1998.
- promote Antarctica as a natural reserve dedicated to peace and science, and ensure that Antarctica does not become a source of international conflict.
- Ensure that the Antarctic environment, as well as its dependent and associated ecosystems, are fully protected; and
- encourage and facilitate research in the Antarctic by Indian-approved institutions and individuals.
The following are the main benefits:
1. improved efficiency, transparency, and accountability in decision-making on all Antarctic issues involving India and the States;
2. more focused involvement of India in Antarctic issues based on matters of national importance, which will result in better use of national resources and improved environmental and research outcomes;
3. coordination, streamlining, and proper monitoring of operations, permissions, and issues through the framework.
4. India’s increased role in heritage issues, marine protected areas, and environmental emergencies, among other things;
5. the use of rules, agreements, and other instruments to encourage long-term planning and monitoring
Greater clarity on environmental roles, responsibilities, and processes, particularly India’s involvement in heritage issues, marine reserve issues, and mining issues, to name a few. It increased the role and responsibility of institutions and industry by creating a simpler and clearer framework in which they can pursue improved research and economic goals.
It’s a framework for better accreditation arrangements in which an activity or proposal is subjected to only one government assessment and approval process, with unnecessary duplication eliminated.
It aids in the most efficient use of government resources and the formation of public-private partnerships to promote and exploit the full potential of benefits available under the Antarctic Treaty, particularly Antarctic tourism.