Point, Counterpoint — Should India Sign the Artemis Accords?


The National Speech and Debate Association has chosen to debate this topic in March: Resolved, that the Republic of India should sign the Artemis Accords.  This will be the topic for a tournament at Needham High School on March 18 and for the Massachusetts State Tournament on March 24 and 25 at Acton Boxborough.

PRO Position

By Finn O’Hara - MERHS Senior

The affirmative side of this argument will focus on the benefits of the increased efficiency and efficacy of space technology that India can only receive through collaboration with the other countries involved in the Artemis Accords. 

By signing the Artemis Accords, India will have access to information that will allow it to advance its space exploration and the innovation that goes along with it. 

According to Stefan Ellerbeck, the space economy is worth at least $469 billion.  With the knowledge that India would receive by signing the Artemis Accords, they would be able to take advantage of this market even more so than they are now through increased access to knowledge and as a result, increased efficiency.

The citizens of India will also benefit significantly from the Artemis program. 

700 million Indians living in rural areas suffer from a lack of telecommunication services, healthcare, and education infrastructure. 

Space technology could be harnessed to create an information base and for providing requisite assistance and service.  The high-resolution earth observation images that will arise from the Artemis Accords can provide village-centric, geo-referenced spatial information for the rightful management of natural resources, such as land use/land cover, terrain morphology, surface water and groundwater, soil characteristics, environment, and infrastructure.

Because of the small budget of the Indian Space Research Organization, these benefits cannot be reaped unless India signs the Artemis Accords and combines information and collaboration with other countries. 

The Artemis program will also help India protect the environment through increased space technology inventions. 

According to Kumar Gandharv, space technologies have led to new inventions that benefit the environment.  Satellite-based technologies are cutting carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, remote-sensing technology is increasing the efficiency of wind turbines, and weather satellite data is assisting solar cells in producing more electricity. 

Like many countries, India faces rising temperatures, droughts, and floods. For this reason, resources that control climate change are necessary, especially those produced by space technology that have proven to be effective. 

After asserting the benefits that the improved space technology will bring, the affirmative side will demonstrate why these benefits are unique to a world in which India signs the Artemis Accords.

India has no realistic alternative to the Artemis Accords according to Rajeswari Rajagopalan; the International Lunar Research Station being developed by China and Russia is not a realistic option considering the state of India’s relations with China.  Additionally, India lacks the political power to create international norms by itself. 

Thus, we affirm; The Republic of India should sign the Artemis Accords.

CON Position

By Charles Lations — MERHS Junior

The negative side of this issue centers around the negative effects of joining the Artemis Accords on the Indian space program’s development, and the potential consequences for international relations were they to join.

Were India to sign the Artemis Accords, they would be joining an agreement that heavily favors American interests.

According to Mike Wall of space.com, NASA’s actions with the Artemis Accords are, “a concerted, strategic effort to redirect international space cooperation in favor of short-term U.S. commercial interests, with little regard to the risks involved.”

Working in an environment that openly favors the advancement of American commercial spaceflight would, by its very nature, limit opportunities for the Indian space program to develop. 

Another key issue with the very existence of the Artemis Accords is that they constitute a very loose interpretation of international law, and in some cases flagrant violations of it.

The Outer Space Treaty specifies that “the moon and other celestial bodies [are] not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”

The Artemis Accords, however, state “that the countries subject to the agreements will support the development of safety zones, for example around a moon base or where mining activities occur,” according to Alexander Stirn of Scientific American.

This is a clear violation of the Outer Space Treaty, as it would permit the creation of what would be essentially colonies on the moon – something explicitly prohibited.

It is also essential to consider the foreign policy implications of these accords.  China views the Artemis Accords as an attempt by the United States to take over outer space, and so India’s signature to this agreement would only work to further inflame already extremely tense relations between the two countries.

According to an article by Sameer P. Lalwani for the United States Institute of Peace, “on December 9, hundreds of Indian and Chinese forces clashed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the roughly 2,100-mile contested boundary” between the two nations.

The result of India’s signing of the Artemis Accords would very possibly be the outbreak of war in Asia, a devastating impact not just on the region and the people in it but also for the world at large, as China and India are both economic powerhouses that are only gaining more global influence.

Thus, we negate: the Republic of India should not sign the Artemis Accords.

india, counterpoint, telecommunication services, stefan ellerbeck, space technology inventions, scientific american, kumar gandharv, asia, charles lations, education infrastructure, united states institute of peace, sameer p. lalwani, russia, rajeswari rajagopalan, national speech and debate association