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Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting


India is set to play a pivotal role in facilitating the first-ever focused discussions on regulating tourism in Antarctica at the 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) and 26th Meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). 


GS II: International Relations

Understanding the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM):

  • Purpose: The ATCM is an annual gathering of the original 12 parties to the Antarctic Treaty, along with other parties interested in Antarctic research.
  • Antarctic Treaty: Signed in 1959, the treaty designates Antarctica as a region devoted to peaceful activities, scientific collaboration, and environmental preservation.
  • Membership: Currently, 56 countries are party to the Antarctic Treaty, including India, which became a Consultative Party in 1983 and reaffirmed its commitment through the Antarctic Act in 2022.
  • Meeting Frequency: Initially held biennially from 1961 to 1994, the meetings have been annual since 1994.
  • 46th ATCM Agenda: The agenda includes discussions on sustainable management of Antarctica, policy, legal matters, biodiversity, inspections, data exchange, research, climate change, tourism, and awareness.
  • India’s Role: As a Consultative Party, India participates in decision-making alongside other Consultative Parties and has been conducting annual scientific expeditions to Antarctica since 1981.

Understanding the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP):

  • Establishment: Formed in 1991 under the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol).
  • Function: The CEP advises the ATCM on matters related to environmental protection and conservation in Antarctica.
  • Importance: Both the ATCM and CEP play crucial roles in safeguarding Antarctica’s delicate ecosystem and promoting scientific research in the region.
  • Annual Meetings: Convened under the Antarctic Treaty System, these meetings serve as platforms for addressing environmental, scientific, and governance issues in Antarctica.
  • 26th CEP Agenda: Focuses on evaluating the Antarctic environment, climate change responses, area protection, marine spatial protection, and biodiversity conservation.


June 2024