Conference on Disarmament, 2003
In 2003, although much effort was exerted to harmonize views on a mandate for an ad hoc committee on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), the Conference on Disarmament (CD) did not reach consensus on its formulation. Divergent approaches to that mandate were among the main reasons for disagreement on its overall programme of work.1
As a follow-up to their joint working paper of 2002 entitled "Possible Elements for a Future International Legal Agreement on the Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects,"2
China and the Russian Federation convened several consultations and meetings among CD delegations to discuss its contents, the results of which they conveyed in an informal paper to the Conference.
As no subsidiary body on PAROS was established, delegations voiced their positions on the issue at the CD's plenary meetings.
China emphasized that preventing the emplacement of weapons in outer space, as well as preventing an arms race in that environment, should be a priority for the international community. Referring to the joint Chinese-Russian working paper cited above, China informed the CD that consultations had led to a number of substantial proposals, and expressed the hope that this process could facilitate future substantive work on the issue in the Conference, leading to the negotiation of a treaty on PAROS.3
It maintained that the risk of the weaponization of outer space was steadily mounting and, therefore it was time to take measures to prevent the proliferation of space weapons.4
The Russian Federation called on the CD to commence work on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space on the basis of a balanced programme of work. Reporting on the practical implementation of the 2002 initiative of its Foreign Minister on promoting openness and strengthening confidence in the field of space activities, it informed the Conference that the relevant notifications of forthcoming spacecraft launches were placed in advance on the official web site of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.5
The Russian Federation submitted an official document on this initiative.6
France expressed its support for the establishment of an ad hoc committee on PAROS, emphasizing that it was the first to put forward this idea.7
The Islamic Republic of Iran, speaking on behalf of the Group of 21, reiterated the Group's view that the issue of PAROS assumed greater urgency because of legitimate concerns that existing legal instruments were inadequate to deter imminent attempts to further militarize outer space. In the Group's opinion, the abrogation of the ABM Treaty brought new challenges in that regard. Accordingly, the Group of 21 emphasized the urgent need for the commencement of substantive work in the CD on PAROS.8
Algeria stated that the joint Chinese-Russian working paper provided an appropriate framework for a treaty prohibiting an arms race in outer space.9
New Zealand, speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, emphasized that the CD should have the primary role in negotiating a multilateral agreement or agreements on PAROS in all its aspects, and called on the Conference to complete the examination and updating of the 1992 mandate and to establish a subsidiary body as early as possible.10
India advocated the early commencement of negotiations on PAROS. However, in the interest of commencing substantive work in the CD, it was willing to consider a less than negotiating mandate on the subject, without ruling out the possibility of future negotiations.11
China submitted an amendment to the draft mandate for an ad hoc committee on PAROS contained in the A-5 proposal, aimed at ensuring that the work of the committee would eventually lead to negotiating a relevant international legal instrument.12
Belgium also submitted a revision to that draft mandate.13
Subsequently, a revised version of the A-5 proposal was issued.14
China, pointed out that the new draft mandate still fell short of its position, but was prepared to join a consensus on the revised A-5 proposal. China also expressed the hope that other Member States would respond positively to its gesture, so that the CD could start substantive work soon.15
The Russian Federation, while emphasizing its preference for a negotiating mandate on PAROS, also expressed readiness to join the consensus on the revised A-5 proposal.16
Despite these positive developments, the CD was not able to reach an agreement on its programme of work, thus no substantive work on the topic was carried out.
General Assembly, 2003
Prevention of an arms race in outer space
. The draft resolution was introduced by Sri Lanka, on behalf of the sponsors (see page click here
for the sponsors), on 21 October. It was adopted by the First Committee on 27 SOctober (161-0-3) and by the General Assembly on 8 December (174-0-4). For the text of the resolution and the voting, see pages click here
and click here
The resolution reaffirmed previous international agreements on this issue, including that forged at SSOD I on negotiating instruments on PAROS; reiterated the complementary nature of bilateral and multilateral efforts and the importance of greater transparency in sharing information on all bilateral efforts in this field; and invited the CD to commence work towards negotiations on PAROS at its 2004 session.
spoke on behalf of the European Union and a group of Western, Central and Eastern European States who aligned themselves with the statement and supported the draft. They believed that any decision on negotiations on PAROS should rest with the CD and stated that the EU was ready to support the establishment of a subsidiary body in the CD to deal with the issue on the basis of a universal consensus mandate. They also emphasized the EU's priority for the CD to start negotiations on a non-discriminatory and universal treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
See also chapter VI on Institutional Aspects, Conference on Disarmament, 2003.
CD/1679, 28 June 2002, available from http://disarmament2.un.org/cd/
cd-docs2002 [accessed 30 July 2004].
CD/PV.922, 14, 6 March 2003, available from http://disarmament2.un.org/cd/cd-mtngs2003 [accessed 30 July 2004].
Meetings, CD/PV.933, 6-8, 31 July 2003.
Meetings, CD/PV.929, 8-9, 5 June 2003, and CD/PV.933, 8-9, 31 July 2003.
Documents, CD/1710, 26 June 2003.
Meetings, CD/PV.939, 12, 4 September 2003.
Meetings, CD/PV.918, 12, 30 January 2003.
Meetings, CD/PV.940,14, 9 September 2003.
Meetings, CD/PV.927, 9, 22 May 2003.
Meetings, CD/PV.916, 5, 23 January 2003.
Meetings, CD/PV.922, 16.
Meetings, CD/PV.932, 8, 26 June 2003.
Documents, CD/1693/Rev.1., 23 January 2003.
Meetings, CD/PV.934, 7-8, 7 August 2003.
Italy spoke on behalf of the European Union, the acceding countries of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia; the associated countries of Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey; and the European Free Trade Association countries, members of the European Economic Area, Iceland and Norway.