Antarctic Treaty

Context: The 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM-46), that was held in Kochi, Kerala last month, it highlighted the debate on Antarctic tourism. 

About Antarctic Treaty

Antarctic Treaty

While the meeting sought to bring in a regulatory framework, it ultimately fell short of a definitive solution, reflecting the complex challenges of managing tourism in a region governed by international consensus and where the environment is rapidly changing.

Antarctic Treaty Explained: The Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington on 1 December 1959 by the twelve countries whose scientists had been active in and around Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-58. It entered into force in 1961 and has since been acceded to by many other nations. The total number of Parties to the Treaty is now 57.

Original Signatories:

The treaty was initially signed by 12 countries:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Chile
  • France
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Soviet Union (now succeeded by Russia)

Some important provisions of the Treaty:

  • Article I: Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only.
  • Article II: Freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation toward that end… shall continue.
  • Article III: Scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available.
  • Article IV: The treaty does not recognize, dispute, or establish territorial sovereignty claims; no new claims shall be asserted while the treaty is in force.
  • Article V: Any nuclear explosions and disposal of radioactive waste in Antarctica are prohibited.
  • Article VII: Provides for inspection by observers from any member country, ensuring compliance with the treaty.
  • Article IX: Parties to the treaty shall meet periodically to discuss measures to further the objectives of the treaty.

Antarctic treaty and India:

India has been a Consultative Party to the Antarctic Treaty since 1983. With the other 28 Consultative Parties, India has a crucial role in governing Antarctica’s scientific exploration and environmental protection.

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PYQ based on the topic 2015:

Q. Which one of the following is associated with the issue of control and phasing out of the use of ozone-depleting substances?

(a) Bretton Woods Conference

(b) Montreal Protocol

(c) Kyoto Protocol

(d) Nagoya Protocol

Answer: (b)

MCQ based on the issue:

Q. Consider the following statements regarding the Antarctic Treaty:

  1. The treaty prohibits military activities and the disposal of radioactive waste in Antarctica.
  2. India is one of the founding members of Antarctic treaty.
  3. The treaty allows for mineral resource activities in Antarctica under strict environmental regulations.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2, and 3

Answer: a. 1 only


  • Statement 1 is correct: The treaty prohibits military activities and the disposal of radioactive waste in Antarctica.
  • Statement 2 is incorrect: India is not one of the founding members of the treaty, India joined the treaty as a consultative member in 1983.
  • Statement 3 is incorrect: The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol) prohibits all activities relating to mineral resources, except for scientific research.
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