The purpose of this article is to define the Antarctic Treaty and provide other pertinent information about it, such as the year it was signed, the 12 original signatories, its function, extension, and purpose. It also sheds light on the topic of mining around the continent, which is becoming more prevalent as natural resources such as oil become depleted.

It also briefly describes the Antarctic Treaty in India’s setting, when India became involved, and what research projects the country is now working on. Finally, it discusses the importance of this topic in UPSC Prelims and Mains, as well as how frequently certain topics are asked in UPSC and IAS exams.

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Antarctica Treaty – UPSC Notes

During the Cold War, 12 countries with significant interests in Antarctica signed the Antarctic Treaty on December 1, 1959. Chile, the United Kingdom, Argentina, the United States, Australia, Belgium, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, France, South Africa, and the Soviet Union were among the twelve countries. It came into effect in 1961. The pact establishes a foundation for international Antarctic interactions. It governs an entire continent with no inhabitants.

Antarctic Treaty System

The Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) is the world organisation and committee in charge of international relations and connections with Antarctica, the world’s only continent without a human population. Antarctica was designated as a haven for scientific inquiry, with complete scientific autonomy and no military intrusion, according to the pact signed.

This regulates all human activity on the continent to ensure that visitors have a safe and environmentally friendly experience. Land and ice shelves south of 60 degrees south latitude are covered by the system.

UPSC Current Affairs

Treaty of Antarctica UPSC is a topic that UPSC hopefuls would need to learn to answer questions from GS Paper 2’s Foreign Relations and International Affairs section. There are two papers in the UPSC Prelims stage. Both studies are objective.

The UPSC Mains stage includes nine papers, seven of which are used to determine the final ranking. In Paper 3: General Studies 2 (GS-2): International Relations, aspirants will encounter questions connected to the Antarctic Treaty. Subjective-type questions appear in the IAS Mains, which are given by students who passed the Prelims.

The impact of climate change on Antarctica is one of the most often asked questions. As it relates to the Antarctic Treaty, international relation is an important topic for students to study.

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UPSC Exam Preparation

In the face of a multitude of issues, the Antarctic Treaty has shown to be quite effective and has resolved many issues. Scientific undertakings in Antarctica are attracting the attention of a growing number of countries. The pact now has 54 countries as signatories. This is due to the widespread availability of ever-evolving technology and digitalisation, as well as climate change.

More countries are claiming significant stakes in the region now than ever before. In recent years, the prospect of mining has sparked heated controversy. Even though mining is prohibited in the region, nations will seek to lift the prohibition shortly as important resources such as oil, petroleum, natural gas and many more become depleted.

Connection with India

In 1983, India became a signatory to the system. Since then, India has demonstrated a growing interest in the region’s ecology, geography, geology, and biodiversity. India has also set up several research centres to look into these topics.

As part of the initiative, Dakshin Gangotri was India’s first scientific research base station in Antarctica. In terms of global warming studies, Antarctica is extremely valuable to Indian scientists. India continues to drill holes in the icy ice sheets of Antarctica regularly, contributing to scientific advances in the region.

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The Antarctic Treaty of 1961 was established to ensure that Antarctica remained free of any international sovereignty or controversy by allowing solely humanitarian use. Antarctica should only be utilised for the benefit of humanity, according to the pact. The restriction on military activity and nuclear trials, intervention, and the disposal of radioactive waste were the key provisions of this system.

The pact, on the other hand, favours scientific research and data exchange as long as they are carried out by international law governing Antarctica. All territorial claims and claims to sovereignty are halted. Despite being signed in 1959, the pact went into effect on June 23, 1961.

Why in the News?

The Antarctic Treaty’s 60th anniversary was recently commemorated. The Antarctic Treaty is still the sole instance of a single system governing an entire continent. It also serves as the cornerstone of a rules-based international order for a continent with no permanent population.

Major International Agreements

#The 1959 Antarctic Treaty.

#The 1972 Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals.

#The 1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

#The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.


Supporting scientific research and analysis freedom.

The continent and parts can only be used for peaceful reasons by nations.

Military activities, the disposal of radioactive waste and nuclear tests are all prohibited.

When territorial sovereignty is neutralised and balanced, it means that any new claim or growth of an existing claim is prohibited.

Any disagreements between claimants over their territories on the continent were put on hold.

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Way Forward

While the Antarctic Treaty has been able to successfully adapt to a variety of problems, the situation in the 2020s is vastly different from the 1950s. Partly due to technological advancements, but also due to climate change, Antarctica is now much more accessible. More countries than the original 12 have a significant stake in the continent currently. Some global resources, particularly oil, are becoming scarce.

There is a lot of conjecture about China’s interests in Antarctic resources, particularly minerals and fisheries, and whether it will try to take advantage of flaws in the system to gain access to them. As a result, all signatories, particularly those with strong stakes in the continent, must pay greater attention to the pact’s survival.


The Antarctic Treaty was a watershed moment in international relations for Antarctica, the world’s only continent without a human population. To avoid conflicts or disagreements between nations, it ensures that Antarctica stays free of territorial claims or sovereignty. It also ensured the demilitarisation of the continent, as well as provisions for collaborative study and possible usage.

Nuclear testing and the dumping of radioactive wastes have been prohibited, setting magnificent precedence for environmentally responsible practices. To avoid war from growing, nations are encouraged to exercise caution and collaboration.

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Antarctica Treaty UPSC: UPSC Current Affairs Preparation Notes and Important Pointers
The pact establishes a foundation for international Antarctic interactions. It governs an entire continent with no inhabitants. Click here to know more about the topic to ace UPSC's current affairs.
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Amiksha Kantam

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