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Open Skies Treaty

Mains-GS2-International Relations

The United States announced to withdraw from the Open Skies treaty after Russia refused to comply with the treaty.

About the treaty

1. The treaty was proposed by the United States of America in 1955 and it was signed in 1992.

2. It allows the member nations to make surveillance flights over each other's countries to build trust.

3. It permits each state-party to conduct short-notice, unarmed, reconnaissance flights over the others' entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities.

4. Observation aircraft used to fly the missions must be equipped with sensors that enable the observing party to identify significant military equipment such as,

a) Artillery

b) Fighter aircraft

c) Armoured combat vehicles.

5. It is also aimed at building confidence and familiarity among states-parties through their participation in the overflights.

6. An observing state-party must provide at least 72 hours' advance notice before arriving in the host country to conduct an overflight.

7. The host country has 24 hours to acknowledge the request and to inform the observing party if it may use its observation plane or if it must use a plane supplied by the host.

8. The host may only request changes in flight plans for flight safety or logistical reasons.

Status and members

1. The treaty entered into force on January 1, 2002 and currently 34 states are party to the treaty.

2. India is not a member of the treaty.


All of a state party's territory can be overflown. No territory can be declared off-limits by the host nation.

Treaty Implementation

1. The Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC) is responsible for the implementation of the Open Skies Treaty.  It is comprised of representatives of all states-parties.

2. The OSCC considers following matters

a) Matters of treaty compliance

b) Treaty membership, active quotas

c) Issues arise during the implementation of the treaty.

3. It meets monthly at the Vienna headquarters of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE).

4. The OSCE is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization.

5. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, promotion of human rights, freedom of the press, and fair elections.

Source- The Hindu