Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding between India and Sweden on cooperation in Polar Science

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News:Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the Agreement on cooperation in polar science between India and Sweden.

Facts:

About the agreement:

  • The agreement between India and Sweden in polar science will enable sharing of the expertise available with both Countries.
  • The agreement becomes significant as both India and Sweden are signatories to the Antarctic Treaty and the Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection. 
  • Sweden is also one of the eight Arctic States and is one of the Member State in the Arctic Council whereas India has the Observer Status in the Arctic Council.

About Antarctic treaty:

  • The Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington in 1959 by twelve countries whose scientists had been active in and around Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-58. 
  • The treaty 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 54.
  • The important provisions of the treaty are (a)Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only (b)Freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation shall continue and (c)Scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available.

About Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty:

  • The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed in Madrid in 1991 and entered into force in 1998. 
  • It designates Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science.It sets forth basic principles applicable to human activities in Antarctica.
  • The treaty prohibits all activities relating to Antarctic mineral resources, except for scientific research.

About Arctic Council:

  • Arctic Council was formally established in 1996 by The Ottawa Declaration.
  • It is an intergovernmental forum for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States.
  • The members of the Arctic Council include (a)Canada (b)Denmark, (c)Finland (d)Iceland (e)Norway (f)Russia (g)Sweden and (h)United States.In addition, six organizations representing Arctic indigenous peoples have status as Permanent Participants.
  • Further,Observer status in the Arctic Council is open to non-Arctic states. Besides India,12 other nations, including China, France, Germany, Japan, UK, Switzerland and the Netherlands have the observer status.