The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 has evolved into a fairly complex, multilayered governance regime (termed as the Antarctic Treaty System) with several compelling issues on its current agenda, including the effective implementation of 1991 Madrid Protocol and its annexes, regulation of tourism, biological prospecting and climate change. The transformed geopolitical context of Antarctic governance in terms of an increasingly diverse membership (with Malaysia and Pakistan having acceded to the Antarctic Treaty recently) as well as growing complexity of Antarctic policy advice, demand critical examination of both the changing nature and role of ‘Antarctic science’ and persisting knowledge-power asymmetries behind the ‘consensus’ based Antarctic science diplomacy. This chapter argues that the concept of ‘global knowledge commons’, as a strategic analytical tool, enables us to pay closer attention to normative-geopolitical interface of knowledge production in the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), especially at the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCMs). India should continue to aim at further democratization of Antarctic governance. This enterprise demands not only a serious and systematic pursuit of multidisciplinary scientific research and knowledge by India but also a proactive, meticulously worked out policy initiatives/interventions at the ATCMs.
Keywords: Geopolitics, global knowledge commons, India, post-colonial engagement, territoriality, bioprospecting, Antarctic Treaty System, SCAR