A comprehensive legal framework established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,
1982 provides the foundation for the use of the ocean development and management of its resources. 159
states including India have signed the Convention, which will enter into force after 60 countries have ratified
it. Under this Convention, India has not only acquired rights and jurisdiction over the 200 nautical mile
Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf extending upto outer edge of the continental margin but
also secured Pioneer Status in deep sea-bed exploration.
The Preparatory Commission for the International Sea-bed Authority set up in 1983 has been elaborating
rules, regulations and procedures for implementing sea-bed mining regime under the Convention. As a
member of the Preparatory Commission, India has been actively involved in the work of the Commission.
Our endeavours in Antarctic research have amply demonstrated India's capability to design and implement
significant scientific research programmes in Antarctica. India has been accorded a Consultative Status - a
decision making role in the Antarctic Treaty System.
During the year in review, India continued to play its rightful role in various international fora, a brief
summary of which is given below:
9.1 Preparatory Commission for the International Seabed Authority and for the
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea [PREPCOM]
The Preparatory Commission met twice during 1990. It held its eighth session at Kingston from 5 to 30
March 1990, and a summer meeting in New York from 13 to 31 August 1990.
At the eighth session of the Preparatory Commission, consultations took place on the modalities for the
implementation of the obligations of the Registered Pioneer Investors and their Certifying States. Although
the matter was extensively discussed, no final conclusion could be reached.
This matter was finally resolved during the summer meeting when on 30 August 1990 the General
Committee on behalf of the Preparatory Commission, adapted the Understanding on the fulfillment of
Obligations by the Registered Pioneer Investors and their Certifying States.
The main elements of this understanding related to:
the payment of a fixed annual fee of US $ 1 million commencing from the date of allocation of a
the carrying out of exploration in the area reserved for activities by the Authority
the training of personnel designated by the Commission.
As a part of the overall understanding, the obligation of India as a Pioneer Investor under the provisions of
Paragraph 7(b) of Resolution II adopted on 30 April 1982 and which provides for payment of annual fixed
fee of one million US dollars has been waived from the date of its registration (August 1987) until the entry
into force of the Convention.
Similar waiver will be available to France, Japan and the Soviet Union upon completion of the first stage of
the exploration of one mine site reserved for the Authority in the Central Pacific. The three Pacific Pioneer
Investors had earlier agreed to provide assistance to the Preparatory Commission in the exploration of one
mine site reserved for the Authority. After the entry into force of the Convention, if the circumstances so
require, the Commission shall, on the basis of an expert report and assessment, recommend to the
International Sea-bed Authority for further waiver of annual fixed fee for a specified period.
Each Pioneer Investor will be required to provide training to the personnel designated by the Preparatory
Commission. The first group of trainees will consist not less than 12 individuals. India will be required to
provide training to the designated personnel on cost free basis. India, which has its pioneer area in the South
Central Indian Ocean, will undertake, if so requested by the Preparatory Commission, a programme of
exploration in accordance with the provisions of Resolution II, paragraph 12(a)(i), i.e. on cost reimbursable
basis, of one mine site for the Enterprise in the area reserved for the Authority in the Indian Ocean.
The Peoples Republic of China on behalf of the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and
Development Association submitted an application for registration as Pioneer Investor and allotment of a
mine site in the Pacific. The group of technical experts met from 19-24 December 1990 at the United
Nations Headquarters to consider the application of the Peoples Republic of China and to determine
whether it was in conformity with the requirements of Resolution II. The General Committee on
the basis of the recommendations of the group of technical experts decided on 5 March 1991 to register the
China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association as a Pioneer Investor and allot a
mine site in the Pacific Ocean.
A seminar on Environmental Aspects of Sea-bed Mining was held in New York in the first week of the 8th
session. The rise of environmental concern as a central issue in preparations for future deep sea-bed mining
and the studies of various methods of monitoring the deep sea ecosystems were the focus of presentations
made by guest experts at the seminar. Experts from Norway, Germany, France, USSR, USA, India,
expressed their view on the present status of deep sea-bed mining and its possible impact on the sea-
bed mining. Seminar participants urged for adopting a "precautionary principle" in assessing risks in deep
sea-bed mining. They also felt that detailed regulations would be needed only when the mining started or a
few years before that.
9.2 Eleventh Antarctic Treaty Special Consultative Meeting
Comprehensive measures for the protection of the Antarctic environment
A special meeting of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties was convened in Vina del-Mar (Chile) from
19 November to 6 December 1990 to consider the question of comprehensive measures for the protection
of the Antarctic environment against the backdrop of political situation resulting from the decision of the
Governments of Australia and France to set aside the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral
Resource Activities adopted in June 1988 and to work for a comprehensive environmental protection
regime for Antarctica. Representatives from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Ecuador,
Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland,
Republic of Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, USSR, U .K., U .S.A., Uruguay (States Consultative
Parties) Austria, Canada, Columbia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Greece, Hungary , Peoples Democratic
Republic of Korea, Romania and Switzerland (Non Consultative Parties) participated in the meeting. In
addition observers from CCAMLR, SCAR, IOC, IUCN, ASOC and European Community also attended
Although the concern for the protection , of the Antarctic environment was widely shared, there
were major differences between the various approaches over the means designed to enhance further
protection of the Antarctic environment. The Franco-Australian approach called for a legally binding
permanent ban on all mining activities and advocated a fully integrated approach for the protection of the
Antarctic environment. The approach outlined by New Zealand, though differed only in form, came very
close to the Franco-Australian approach. On the other hand U.K., U.S.A., Argentina, Norway and Uruguay
opposed the Franco-Australian approach and did not favour a ban on mining activity.
India took a principled stand on the question of ban on mining in Antarctica, in the context of
comprehensive measures for the protection of the Antarctic environment and advocated that it would be
ideal if mining activities could be banned in Antarctica and the continent exclusively used for peaceful and
scientific research activities. If the special ATCM could not arrive at a consensus for an all time ban on
mining activities, there should be a legally binding moratorium for a specific period, extension of which
may be reviewed taking into account the factors prevailing at the time of review, including the availability
of fail safe technologies. Thus, the major elements of the Indian approach and the proposal put forward by
India at the meeting provided a basis for bridging the opposing stands.
Although, the discussions in Vina del-Mar were inconclusive, there was widespread and Substantial support
for establishing a new legally binding international instrument for the protection of the Antarctic
environment and its dependent and associated ecosystems. Tentative agreement on comprehensive
measures for the protection of the Antarctic environment was incorporated in a Draft Protocol.
At the resumed session in Madrid during April 1991 agreement was reached among the 26 Consultative
Parties to the Antarctic Treaty to adopt comprehensive measures for the protection of the Antarctic
environment and to designate Antarctica as a nature reserve devoted to peace and science. The agreement,
yet to be ratified by the Governments, puts a prohibition on mining in Antarctica for 50 years, any
amendment after that needing the agreement of all Consultative Parties. The outcome of the meeting in
Madrid has vindicated India's stand.
9.3 Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
As a member of the Inter-Governmental Oceanographic Commission and Member of the Executive
Council, India participated in the annual session of the Inter-Governmental Oceanographic Commission
and some of its subsidiary bodies. These included the meeting of East Asian Seas (Bangkok - February),
third session of Guiding Group of Experts for Ocean Science Living Resources (Paris - February),
Workshop on Human Response to Environmental Stress under the MAB Programmes (Bonn - June),
Internationa1 Conference on Large Marine Ecosystems at the MUSEE Oceanographic de Monaco (Monaco
- October) and the 2nd regional meeting of MAB National Committee for South and Central Asia
(Islamabad - October). Additional Secretary , Department of Ocean Development participated in these
9.4 Other Meetings
Secretary, Department of Ocean Development, visited the USSR Academy of Sciences from May 12-
18,1990. The objectives of the visit were to:
Carry out a detailed appraisal of interpreted models of the deformation zone of the central Indian Ocean
lithosphere independently worked out by the Soviet and Indian scientists on the basis of continuous seismic
profiling data gathered on the Soviet research vessel
Design the next phase of research cruises in the Indian Ocean under the Indo-Soviet Integrated Long Term
Cooperative Programmes (ILTP) in Science and Technology
Discuss the implementation of various programmes in earth sciences under the ILTP with Soviet area
Deliver a lecture on the outstanding question related by the enigmatic structure of the deforming Indian
9.4.1. Pacific Science Congress
At the invitation of UNESCO, Secretary, Department of Ocean Development attended a curriculum
workshop organised by the Pacific Science congress in Tokyo from 20-24 July, 1990. The workshop
attended by 37 representatives from 13 different countries , discussed a proposal to establish the network of
marine science institutions in the Indo-Pacific region for education, training, monitoring and management
related to global change, environmental quality and resource development. Future activities of the network
are proposed to be decided at the Pacific Congress to be held during 1991.
9.4.2. Global ocean observing system
The Adhoc Group of Experts on Ocean Observing System met in Washington in September 1990 to review
the status report on the development of the global ocean observing system and to make recommendations
for the preparation of a strategic plan. At the invitation of the Inter-Governmental Oceanographic
Commission, Secretary, Department of Ocean Development attended this meeting. The Expert Group made
recommendations regarding further development of plans and presentations to the Second World Climate
Conference. The Group also recommended that attention be given to ways and means of providing
instrumentations to developing countries, as well as training their specialists in ocean observations
and applications of data for research and practical purposes.
Brief visits were also paid to Scott Polar , Research Institute at the University of Cambridge and Institute of
Oceanographic Sciences, Surrey, with the objective of identifying areas of cooperative endeavour to seek
assistance in organising the information system at the Antarctic Study Centre proposed to be set up in Goa.
9.4.3. Visit to Antarctic stations
Secretary, Department of Ocean Development visited Antarctic Research Stations situated in Antarctic
Peninsular region, namely Palmer (U.S.), Belinghausen (Russian) and the Great Wall (Chinese), during the
second week of December 1990. The visit provided a valuable opportunity for a first hand appraisal of the
nature and content of Antarctic research activities pursued by U.S. and other countries and the strategies
and organisations designed by them to accomplish their objectives. It also provided a forum for informal
discussions concerning possible cooperative programmes in Antarctic research which would expand the
opportunity base for our scientists to sample varied terrains and environments in Antarctic through mutual
sharing of base facilities.