13 October 2011
General Assembly
GA/SPD/485

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

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

9th Meeting (AM)


Setting Spacefaring Nations against Non-Spacefaring Ones Rejected in Fourth

 

Committee as Debate Centres on Cooperative, Not Competitive, Use of Space

 


Harnessing Space-Driven Data for Sustainable Development,

Opening Access on Equal, Non-discriminatory Basis Also Stressed


Delegates in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) today stressed the importance of preventing an arms race in space and ensuring that its peaceful uses remained cooperative and not competitive to avoid setting spacefaring nations against non-spacefaring ones, and to make the best use of space-driven data for sustainable development.


Cuba’s representative cautioned that the legal regime applicable to space was insufficient to prevent an arms race in outer space.  He urged the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament — the only multilateral forum on disarmament — to play a role in preventing an arms race in outer space.  He reiterated the importance of renewing those efforts, warning that weaponizing space would not only destroy the promising future of space applications, but would endanger their very existence.


The competitive use of outer space, said Nigeria’s delegate, would destroy its peaceful environment.  Space should remain a cooperative endeavour, carefully designed to benefit the international community as a whole.  In that light, he supported the African Resources Management Satellite Constellation, a regional initiative to develop space technology, as noted at the Fourth African Leadership Conference on Space Science and Technology for Sustainable Development under the theme “Building a Shared Vision for Space in Africa”.


Similarly, the Philippines upheld the principle of equal and non-discriminatory access to outer space and equal conditions for all States, irrespective of their level of scientific, technical and economic development, said its representative.  He called for full access to space-based information and for the enhancement of forums where space-related issues could be addressed.


In the lead-up to the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, Australia’s representative particularly welcomed the focus of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) on harnessing space-driven geospacial data for sustainable development. 


Steady progress had been made in Pakistan, its delegate said, in the application of space sciences and technology in the area of sustainable development, among others.  The lead agency in that field, Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), was applying space sciences in projects and programmes ranging from education to telemedicine, agriculture, irrigation, monitoring of watercourses and floods, natural resource management, satellite meteorology, and environmental surveying.


That representative also emphasized the importance of space-based communication and disaster management support.  The earthquake of 2005 and the devastating floods of the past two years in Pakistan had underlined the need for greater and more efficient role of space technology to prevent and monitor natural disasters.  SUPARCO was undertaking studies to find long-term solutions to manage monsoon flooding, and water storage for future use.


Along with others briefing on their country’s various achievements in the use of outer space technology for development and disaster management was India’s delegation, which said the recent placements of satellites, including RESOURCESAT‑2, into their intended orbits in April constituted significant progress.  Also, the Indo-French joint satellite mission for monitoring tropical atmosphere - launched yesterday - was a good example of international cooperation in the use of outer space technology for peaceful purposes.


The representative of Malaysia said his country wished to become a hub for satellite manufacturing services in the South-East Asian region with the completion of its Assembly, Integration, and Testing (AIT) facility in mid-2012.  The services to be provided included vibration test systems, thermal vacuum chambers, and electromagnetic compatibility chambers.


By partnering with various African countries, including Algeria and Nigeria, the representative of South Africa said it had launched a “constellation partnership” whose data would be used to benefit partner countries in climate monitoring, housing and agriculture.  That partnership had made it possible to increase spatial capacity, receiving up to 1,000 images per day.  South Africa was also using space technology to reach remote areas in the country.  Eighty-six telemedicine sites had been established across the country, and telemedicine agreements had been signed with various African States.


The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 18 October to begin consideration of its topic, questions relating to information.


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.  (For background of the report before the Committee, document A/66/20, see Press Release GA/SPD/483).


Statements


RAM GOPAL YADAV ( India) said that the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) had contributed significantly towards capacity-building for sustainable development and strengthening international cooperation for peaceful utilization of outer space.  He briefed the Committee on India’s achievements in outer space, including the placement of RESOURCESAT-2 and two auxiliary satellites into their intended orbits on 20 April.


Also, he said, the Indo-French joint satellite mission for monitoring tropical atmosphere had been launched yesterday.  That was a good example of international cooperation, and the data from that satellite would be useful for the global scientific community, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  Further, many national and regional programmes were being initiated to integrate the advances in space technology with national development goals.


He added that India continued to share its expertise and services.  The Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and Pacific, operated from India, had benefitted scholars from various countries inside and outside the Asia Pacific region.


TAHIR HUSSAIN ANDRABI ( Pakistan) said his country had made steady progress in the application of space sciences and technology in various fields, including sustainable development.  The lead agency in that field in his country, Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), was applying space sciences in projects and programmes ranging from education to telemedicine, agriculture, irrigation, monitoring of watercourses and floods, natural resource management, satellite meteorology, and environmental surveying.


He said agriculture was the backbone of the Pakistani economy, for which the Research Commission provided useful support by monitoring crops and analyzing prevailing environment and ground conditions.  He also stressed the importance of space-based communication and disaster management support.  The earthquake of 2005 and devastating floods of the past two years in Pakistan underlined the need for a greater and more efficient role of space technology to prevent and monitor natural disasters.  The Commission was undertaking studies to find long-term solutions to manage monsoon flooding, and water storage for future use.


The Outer Space Committee had an important role in ensuring that the benefits from space-science technology also reached developing countries.  The developed countries, however, needed to have the political will and right priority to engage the developing countries in that field.  That engagement should entail sharing of experiences, technology transfer, and non-discriminatory, affordable and timely access to relevant data.


CAROLINE FOGARTY ( Australia) said that, in the lead-up to the Rio+20 summit, Australia particularly welcomed the Outer Space Committee’s focus on harnessing space-driven geospacial data for sustainable development.  Her country was a signatory to all of the major space treaties, and was developing a national space policy, which would provide a vision for Australia’s use of space and related technology.  That policy would build the country’s existing capacities to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from land-based activities in support of Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts.  In that vein, land-based emissions (sources) and removals (sinks) of greenhouse gases were a major part of Australia’s emissions profile.  Australia was also sharing its experiences and technologies with other countries.


Among other related activities, Australia was actively contributing to the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations, which helped countries develop their own robust forest observation capacity, she said.  It was installing a new ground-receiving station to improve access to satellite data, and had committed AUD$100 million to the Indonesia-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership to date.  Australia had also hosted the seventeenth Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum in 2010, which had created a new initiative known as the Regional Readiness Review for Key Climate Missions, or “Climate R3”; it had then hosted the first R3 pilot workshop and planned to further support the initiative.  Australia was also supporting a number of workshops to help East African countries build capacity in the area of carbon monitoring.  The delegation further stressed the importance of coordination and collaboration with regard to Earth observation data in supporting activities, particularly concerning sustainability and climate change issues.


GOBALAKRISHNAN NAGAPAN ( Malaysia) aligned himself with the (Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) statement and said that Malaysia had continued to seek out opportunities to collaborate globally in the peaceful uses of outer space.  On 13 September 2011, the Government of Malaysia had announced its intention to further expand its satellite development programme, with a modest US$66 million budget for the initial phase of the RazakSAT-2 Earth observation satellite programme.  Malaysia was committed to working with the countries on the equatorial belt for mutual benefit and had co-organized the Sentinel Asia Joint Project Team in July 2011, with the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency.  He added that Malaysia wished to become a hub for satellite manufacturing service providers for the South-East Asian region, and with the completion of its Assembly, Integration, and Testing (AIT) facility in mid-2012, would be able to provide services including vibration test systems, thermal vacuum chambers, and electromagnetic compatibility chambers.


In support of the fiftieth anniversary of human space flight, Malaysia had organized various activities and education programmes intended to inspire new talent and enthusiasm in local young people.  Malaysia was also drafting an Outer Space Act which was expected to be completed in 2012.


CARLOS D. SORRETA (Philippines), aligning with the statement of ASEAN, said that the Philippines upheld the principle of equal and non-discriminatory access to outer space and equal conditions for all States, irrespective of their level of scientific, technical and economic development.  He also called for full and open access to space-based information and for the enhancement of forums where space-related issues could be addressed.


He noted that the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs  (UNOOSA) had provided the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services opportunities to keep abreast of developments in astronomy and space science through international workshops and congresses.  Further, he called for available and accurate statistics to support disaster reduction.  With assistance from the United Nations Platform for Space-Based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), the Philippines had proven the effectiveness of using satellite imagery to monitor the movement of typhoons.  It continued to benefit from UN-SPIDER’s advisory and mission/support in terms of improving its disaster risk reduction and emergency response practices.


OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ ( Cuba) said the legal regime applicable to space was insufficient to prevent an arms race in outer space.  As the only multilateral forum on disarmament, the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva must play a role in preventing an outer space arms race in all aspects.  He reiterated the importance of renewing efforts to prevent outer space from becoming such a stage, as that would not only destroy the promising future of space applications, but would endanger their very existence.  In that vein, he said that COPUOS should take a special role in perfecting the ethical principles and legal instruments to ensure the fully peaceful and non-discriminatory use of all space applications.


He said that despite its limited resources, Cuba had continued to develop space-based applications for the peaceful uses of space.  Preventative evacuations had made it possible to reduce the loss of human life in disasters, and high- resolution images continued to help detect forest fires.  The right of all States to explore and use outer space to the benefit and in the interest of all humanity was a universally accepted legal principle.  However, achieving full autonomy of space capacities in all States was not technologically or economically viable, at least, in the near future.  It was increasingly urgent to have greater bilateral and multilateral cooperation, as that was of vital importance, especially through the exchanges of experience and technology.  In that sense, the interrelationship between COPUOS and the United Nations Sustainable Development Committee should be strengthened.


MANIEMAGEN GOVENDER ( South Africa) said that through the implementation of the recommendations of the UNISPACE III conference and the UN-SPIDER, the United Nations had been at the forefront of integrating space science and research to advance the development agenda.  COPUOS and the United Nations must continue to promote the applicability of geospatial data to the management of natural resources, food security, early warning and monitoring of natural disasters, and global health.  The United Nations had a key role in facilitating access by all countries to the benefits of space technology.


He added that South Africa was encouraged that COPUOS shared strong relations with regional and inter-regional Government entities in coordination of space activities.  South Africa had played an important role regionally and nationally to promote the peaceful uses of outer space technology.  In partnership with various African countries, including Algeria and Nigeria, his country had launched a constellation partnership whose data would be used to benefit the countries in climate monitoring, housing and agriculture.  The partnership had made it possible to increase spatial capacity, receiving up to 1,000 images per day.  South Africa would also commence the development of an operation satellite later this month.  A space cooperation agreement had been signed with the Russian Federation and a space cooperation Memorandum of Understanding was being negotiated with India.


The international astronautical conference organized this year in South Africa had provided space agency heads, academics, industry executives and professionals exposure to what South Africa was doing in the space technology field.  In particular, the country was using space technology to reach remote areas.  Eighty-six telemedicine sites had been established across the country and telemedicine agreements had been signed with various African States.


PETER OYEDELE ( Nigeria) said it was no longer disputed that space technology was imperative to sustainable development.  Rather, it aided better understanding and prediction of the environment, including changes in climate, agricultural development, and human settlements, particularly in the developing world.  The exploration and peaceful uses of outer space should not be of a competitive nature that set spacefaring nations against non-spacefaring nations.  Rather, it should be a cooperative endeavour carefully designed to benefit the international community as a whole.


He said that the competitive use of outer space would not create a peaceful environment in space.  In that light, his delegation supported the African Resources Management Satellite Constellation, a regional initiative to develop space technology, as expressed at the Fourth African Leadership Conference on Space Science and Technology for Sustainable Development under the theme “Building a Shared Vision for Space in Africa”.


According to the 2008 United Nations registry, there were more than 200 dead satellites littering the part of space near geostationary orbit.  That was apart from other elements contributing to the debris in outer space.  Without doubts, that situation posed great risk and danger to spacecrafts and space exploration.  It was urgent that the Fourth Committee consider legal mechanisms to guarantee safety of objects launched into outer space.


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For information media • not an official record