13 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/SPD/457

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

9th Meeting (AM)


Emergency Responses, National Advances Prove World’s Commitment to Developing


Outer Space for Good of Humanity, Fourth Committee Told

 


Rapporteur Cites Coordinated Use of Technologies to Rescue 33 Trapped Miners


Global responses to human emergencies and advances in national space sectors were among the hard proof of the world’s commitment to the notion of developing outer space for the good of humankind, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today during its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.


Raimundo Gonzalez Aninat (Chile), Second Vice-Chair and Rapporteur of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, said a case in point was the coordinated efforts by the United States and the United Nations in using available technologies to rescue the 33 Chilean miners trapped 700 metres underground.  He noted the particular effectiveness of the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) system.


Israel’s representative said peaceful outer space cooperation was the foundation of his country’s mission to promote innovative scientific projects based on international collaboration.  Progress through joining forces was the best way to drive significant advances, he said, pointing out examples of cooperation, such as agreements between the Israel Space Agency and those of France, Canada, Germany, the United States, the Russian Federation, India, Ukraine and the Netherlands.


India’s representative said his country was integrating advances in space technology and applications into national development goals, in addition to establishing cooperation agreements with other States, including Argentina, the Republic of Korea and Saudi Arabia.  India was also a participant in the initiatives of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum and the Global Earth Observation System.


Iran’s representative echoed other delegates in describing outer space as a common heritage of humankind, emphasizing that it should be explored and studied in a spirit of cooperation for the benefit and prosperity of all States, with an eye towards letting space technologies benefit socio-economic development.  In that light, Iran had established a regional office for the United Nations Office for Outer Space Activities in 2009.  However, he joined other delegates in cautioning against an arms race in outer space.


Echoing that sentiment, Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, Chair of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, warned that the world was indeed vulnerable.  For that reason, cooperation was inevitable, he added.  “As the 103rd human who had the opportunity to see our home planet from outside its atmosphere, no more than 20 years after Yuri Gagarin did it, followed by Alan Shepard, I recall the picture of Earth, taken from outer space, which reveals the unique beauty of our planet — and its great vulnerability,” he said.  “It has become the very embodiment of a new sense of global community – making it all the more essential that the spirit of cooperation in space activities for the benefit of all humanity will be further strengthened.”


Also speaking today were the representatives of Kazakhstan, South Africa, Tunisia and Austria.


The Fourth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 14 October, to continue its debate.


Background


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its consideration of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.


Special Statement


RAIMUNDO GONZALEZ ANINAT (Chile), Second Vice-Chair and Rapporteur of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, sought Members’ recognition of the assistance his country had received from the Government of the United States and the United Nations, particularly the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) system, to help save the lives of the 33 miners trapped 700 metres underground until today.  That was an example for future work and cooperation, he said.


Introduction of Report


DUMITRU-DORIN PRUNARIU (Romania), Chair of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, said the report on that body’s fifty-third session (document A/65/20) was a comprehensive overview of the wide range of topics under consideration this year, adding that he would introduce the draft omnibus resolution in the working group.


He said research and development in space science and technology was a fundamental prerequisite for any space application intended to benefit human development.  The Outer Space Committee would continue to strengthen its major role in shaping international standards for space activities and promoting cooperation and coordination on the global, regional and interregional levels for the benefit of all countries.


Even though the last decade had been successful in bringing the benefits of space technology to all, the world was facing major challenges, including the massive earthquake in Haiti and the recent flooding in Pakistan, he said.  Those disasters demonstrated the world’s vulnerability to the forces of nature.  The loss of life and property could be diminished if better information were available through improved risk assessment, early warning and monitoring of disasters.  The UN-SPIDER report had made recent progress, he said, pointing out that space tools were indispensable in other areas linked to disasters, including climate change, food security and global health.  There was also an opportunity to examine how scientific research in human space flight could become an even stronger tool for development.


He said that this year, the Committee had continued its consideration of important agenda items, including space and society, space and climate change, and international cooperation promoting the use of space-derived geospatial data for sustainable development.  The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee as well as the Legal Subcommittee had made considerable achievements this year, he said, noting also the ongoing activities of Member States and international organizations in the mitigation of space debris.  Defending Earth from the threat of asteroids was another important endeavour, as were the latest developments in the field of global navigation satellite systems.


Major space-related cooperation and coordination mechanisms included the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization and the African Leadership Conference on Space Science and Technology for Sustainable Development, he said, applauding their work as well as that of the Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education.  “As the 103rd human who had the opportunity to see our home planet from outside its atmosphere, no more than 20 years after Yuri Gagarin did it, followed by Alan Shepard, I recall the picture of Earth, taken from outer space, which reveals the unique beauty of our planet — and its great vulnerability,” he said.  “It has become the very embodiment of a new sense of global community — making it all the more essential that the spirit of cooperation in space activities for the benefit of all humanity will be further strengthened.”


Statements


HAIM ASSARAF ( Israel) said his country’s national space agency promoted innovative scientific projects based on international collaboration, while the space industry harnessed the best of human creativity and vision, providing the infrastructure to spur industrial development.  Progress, through joining forces, was the best way to drive significant advances, and Israel attached great importance to advancing international cooperation.  Thus the Israel Space Agency had signed cooperation agreements with France, Canada, Germany, the United States, the Russian Federation, India, Ukraine and the Netherlands.


Israel had entered the space age with the launch of the OFEQ-1 Satellite in September 1988, joining eight other nations capable of producing, launching and operating their own satellites, he recalled.  Some of the country’s other activities, including the Vegetation and Environment Monitoring New Micro-Satellite (VENUS) project, contained multispectral cameras that allowed the monitoring, analysis and modelling of land surface to assess the impact of environmental factors, as well as human activities.


He recalled a special partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States and the Israel Space Agency, in particular a 2003 joint mission in which Israel’s first astronaut, the late Colonel Ilan Ramon, had participated in the Columbia shuttle mission and guided the Mediterranean-Israel Dust Experiment, providing scientific information about atmospheric aerosols and the influence of global changes on climate.  During that mission, Colonel Ramon had helped coordinate the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer test.  While the mission had ended in tragedy, Israel continued to expand its partnership with NASA and had recently joined the NASA Lunar Science Institutes.  It had also begun to work closely with Italy’s space agency, he said, adding that the Israeli private sector was a significant contributor to the space industry, and included a significant number of companies making space products.


BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said the Outer Space Committee provided unique possibilities for enhancing global and interregional dialogue and cooperation in revitalizing interest and investment in the peaceful uses of space.  It not only stimulated research, but strengthened trust within the parameters of international space rights.  Kazakhstan, the country on whose territory the unique Baikonur Cosmodrome complex has been located, and from which Yuri Gagarin, the world’s first cosmonaut, had launched his flight into space, implemented its national programme in line with the guidelines reflected in the Committee’s report.


She said her country supported the use of data received through outer space techniques for managing water resources, preventing and mitigating the consequences of emergency situations, especially in developing countries, monitoring the environment, and for robustly furthering a global navigation satellite system.  Kazakhstan fully supported efforts to increase awareness and promote the use of advantages gained from aerospace science and measures to strengthen the Inter-Agency Conference on Space Activities.  She urged the pursuit, as a high priority, of ways to preserve outer space for peaceful uses and called upon all Member States to actively prevent an arms race there.


XOLISA MABHONGO ( South Africa) said his country had elaborated a new space policy, underpinned by the need to use outer space for sustainable development.  To support the implementation of that policy, the South African National Space Agency had been established and was expected to be fully operational by April 2011.  The first national satellite, the SumbandilaSat, had been launched from Kazakhstan in September 2009, and the South African-built MeerKAT radio telescope had produced the first interferometric image in April 2010.


Emphasizing that the development of space programmes required regional and international cooperation, he said his country was a participant — with Kenya, Nigeria and Algeria — in the African Resource and Environmental Constellation, low Earth-orbiting satellites developed under the auspices of the African Leadership Conference on Space Science and Technology for Sustainable Development.  On the global level, South Africa was committed to working with others in the development of international norms for the use of outer space, and thus attached importance to the work of the Outer Space Committee.  He said South Africa had offered to host a regional office for the UN-SPIDER system, an important addition to the various mechanisms for dealing with natural disasters at a time when the world was experiencing them with increasing frequency.


MOHAMMAD REZA BAK SAHRAEI ( Iran) said that, as one of the first members of the Outer Space Committee, his country was aware that space technologies benefited humankind in the areas of socio-economic development and should be available to all States.  Concerned about an arms race, Iran believed that outer space, as a common heritage of humankind, should be explored and studied in a spirit of cooperation for the benefit and prosperity of all.


The Iranian space programme had seen its own achievements over the past year, he said, adding that satellites had been unveiled and would hopefully be launched in the near future.  Iran had also helped organize a workshop on space cooperation, he said, thanking supporters of those activities.  In 2009, Iran had established a regional office for the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and would cooperate fully with the Committee during its current session.


MUHAMMED HAMDULLAH SAYEED ( India) briefed the Committee on significant achievements that his country had made in the field of space since the last session.  In its fifteenth successive successful flight, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-14 had placed OCEANSAT-2 and six other international nanosatellites in orbit in September 2009.  In addition, the Chandrayaan-1, with many international payloads aboard, including one from the United States, had been instrumental in conclusively establishing the presence of water and hydroxyl molecules on the lunar surface.


In the coming months the Indian Space Research Organization aimed to augment the country’s constellation of remote-sensing and communication satellites, he continued, adding that India was getting ready for the launch of RESOURCESAT-1 and the Radar Imaging Satellite for natural resource management.  The emphasis of the Indian space programme was on integrating advances in space technology and applications into national development goals, particularly in vital service areas such as telecommunications, television broadcasting, meteorology, disaster warning, and the survey and management of natural resources.


He emphasized the importance of international cooperation in space activities, especially in taking up new scientific and technological challenges, defining international frameworks for exploitation, and the peaceful use of outer space.  India had recently entered into agreements with Argentina, the Republic of Korea and Saudi Arabia, he said, adding that his country was establishing a user terminal in Papua New Guinea to receive multi-spectral Earth observation data from its IMS-1 satellite to support its initiative on using space technology for developmental purposes.  India was also participating in the initiatives of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum, and in the Global Earth Observation System, in addition to pursuing a 10-year implementation plan in various areas of societal benefit.


GHAZI JOMAA ( Tunisia) said his country attached special importance to the field of communication and technology and had worked to integrate them into its social programmes.  It had established a national committee and a remote-sensing system in the 1980s, in addition to having ratified three outer space-related conventions.


As a country with limited resources, Tunisia was committed to applying the benefits of the use of outer space, he said, adding that the report before the Committee covered activities of paramount importance, reflecting the richness of the spheres in which the peaceful uses of outer space could take place.  Member States should attach the proper importance to those activities, particularly those relating to natural disasters, among other things.


JOHANNES AIGNER ( Austria) said that, given the major natural disasters that had occurred during the year, including those in Haiti and Chile, there was a need to step up efforts to improve overall capacities to tackle the negative effects of such catastrophes.  Space-based technologies could not be prized enough for their early warning and effective relief and rehabilitation attributes, he said, adding that Austria, a major contributor to the UN-SPIDER system, was pleased with the progress made in its 2010-11 work plan.


He said his country was developing national space legislation, regarded as a prerequisite for sustainable outer-space activities, adding that the law-making process was intended to be finalized this year.  As a State that had ratified all five United Nations treaties on outer space, Austria encouraged States that had not yet done so to ratify or accede to those instruments.


A number of important issues had been considered during this year’s session of the Legal Subcommittee, including space debris, the commercialization of the space sector and nuclear power sources, he said.  In order to contribute to legal certainty, there was a need to address those issues further with a view to strengthening existing legal regimes and discussing the need for new regimes.  Austria was convinced that productive work in that regard would be achieved in the upcoming sessions of the Legal Subcommittee.


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For information media • not an official record