FOURTH COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT ENDORSING OUTER SPACE COMMITTEE’S WORK, PREPARATIONS FOR 2004 GENERAL ASSEMBLY REVIEW OF UNISPACE III

9 October 2002
GA/SPD/241

FOURTH COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT ENDORSING OUTER SPACE COMMITTEE’S WORK, PREPARATIONS FOR 2004 GENERAL ASSEMBLY REVIEW OF UNISPACE III

09/10/2002
Press Release
GA/SPD/241


Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Fourth Committee

9th Meeting (AM)


FOURTH COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT ENDORSING OUTER SPACE COMMITTEE’S WORK,


PREPARATIONS FOR 2004 GENERAL ASSEMBLY REVIEW OF UNISPACE III


The General Assembly would endorse the latest report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and urge States that had not yet done so to become parties to the five treaties governing the uses of outer space, by the terms of a draft resolution approved without a vote this morning by the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).


By the text, the General Assembly would also agree that its 2004 review and appraisal of implementation of the recommendations of the 1999 Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) should be conducted in plenary session under a separate agenda item.


The Assembly would note with satisfaction that the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space had started to prepare the report for that review, which would take place during the Assembly's fifty-ninth session.  In that context, the Assembly would agree that the working group established by the Outer Space Committee to prepare for the review should be reconvened at the Committee's forty-sixth session.


By other terms of the text, the Assembly would accept, on an exceptional basis, Algeria’s membership in the Outer Space Committee.  The Assembly would also endorse the decision of the Committee to grant permanent observer status to the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites and to Spaceweek International Association.


The Assembly would, by further terms of the text, urge all States -- in particular those with major space capabilities -- to actively contribute to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space as an essential condition for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.


Also according to the text, the Assembly would emphasize the need to increase the benefits of space technology and its applications, and to contribute to an orderly growth of space activities favourable to sustained economic growth and sustainable development in all countries, particularly in the developing countries.


The Assembly would also endorse the recommended work programmes for the Scientific and Technical, and Legal Subcommittees, which address such issues as the use of nuclear power sources in outer space; space debris; and the geostationary orbit.


The Assembly would also urge United Nations entities, in cooperation with the Outer Space Committee and its Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, to examine how space science and technology could contribute to the implementation of the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Summit's Plan of Implementation.


The Chairman of the working group of the whole, Raimundo Gonzalez (Chile) introduced the draft resolution.


The representatives of Libya and Algeria spoke following the Committee's approval of the draft resolution.


Also speaking this morning were the representatives of the United States, Syria, Libya, China and Mexico, as the Committee concluded its general debate on international cooperation for the peaceful uses of outer space.


At its next meeting, at 10 a.m. Friday, 11 October, the Committee will begin its consideration of the effects of atomic radiation.


Background


As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning, it was expected to conclude its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.  [For background information, see Press Release GA/SPD/239 of 7 October 2002.]


The Committee had before it a draft resolution submitted by Chile on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (document A/C.4/57/L.5).  By the terms of the text, the General Assembly would reaffirm the importance of international cooperation in developing the rule of law, including the relevant norms of space law and their important role in international cooperation for the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.


According to the text, the Assembly would endorse the recommendation of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space that the Legal Subcommittee, at its forty-second session, consider, among other things, the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space; the definition and delimitation of outer space; and the character and utilization of the geostationary orbit, including ways to ensure its equitable use without prejudice to the role of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).


By further terms of the text, the Assembly would endorse the Committee's recommendation that the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, at its fortieth session, consider, among other things, the United Nations Programme on Space Applications; matters relating to remote sensing of the Earth by satellite; the use of nuclear power sources in outer space; and space debris.


Also according to the text, the Assembly would urge all governments, entities of the United Nations system and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to take the necessary action for the effective implementation of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) recommendations, in particular, its resolution entitled, "The Space Millennium:  Vienna Declaration on Space and Human Development".  It would also request the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-eight session on the implementation of the UNISPACE III recommendations.


By further terms, the Assembly would note with satisfaction the work conducted by 11-action teams established by the Committee at its forty-fourth session to implement the UNISPACE III recommendations and agree that Member States should provide full support to those teams in conducting their work.  The Assembly would also note with satisfaction that the Committee had started to prepare a report in order for the Assembly to review and appraise, at its fifty-ninth session, in 2004, the implementation of the outcome of UNISPACE III.  In that context, it would also agree that the working group established by the Committee to prepare that report should be reconvened at the Committee's forty-sixth session.


Further, the Assembly would agree that the General Assembly's review of the progress made in implementing the UNISPACE III recommendations should be conducted in the Assembly's plenary under a separate agenda item entitled, "Review of the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space" at its fifty-ninth session in 2004.


Also according to the text, the Assembly would recommend that more attention be paid and political support be provided to all matters relating to the protection and preservation of the outer space environment, especially those affecting the Earth's environment.  The Assembly would also consider it essential that Member States pay more attention to the problem of collisions of outer space debris, including those with nuclear power sources.  It would call for national research on the matter, as well as the development of improved technology for the monitoring of space debris.


By other terms of the draft, the Assembly would urge all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to actively contribute to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space as an essential condition for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.  It would also emphasize the need to increase the benefits of space technology and its applications, and to contribute to an orderly growth of space activities favourable to sustained economic growth and sustainable development in all countries, including mitigation of the consequences of disasters, particularly in the developing countries.


Also by the text, the Assembly would agree that the benefits of space technology and its applications should be brought to the attention of United Nations conferences to address global issues relating to social, economic and cultural development and that the use of space technology should be promoted towards achieving the objectives of those conferences and implementing the Millennium Declaration.  It would also urge United Nations entities, particularly those participating in the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities, to examine how space science and technology could contribute to the implementation  of the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Summit's Implementation Plan.


By further terms of the text, taking note of Algeria's interest in and contributions to the work of the Committee and its request to become a member of the Committee, the Assembly would decide, on an exceptional basis, to accept its membership in accordance with paragraph 41 of General Assembly resolution 56/51.


The Assembly would also welcome the interest of Libya in Committee membership and the endorsement of its candidature by the Group of African States.  It would request the Committee to continue constructive consideration of the matter during its next session, taking into account the principle of consensus.


The Assembly would also endorse the decision of the Committee to grant permanent observer status to the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites and to Spaceweek International Association.


Statements


KENNETH HODGKINS (United States) said several multilateral mechanisms existed where disarmament matters could and were appropriately being discussed, but the Outer Space Committee was not and should not be one of them.  The Committee was not created to deal with disarmament.  More than four decades ago, the United States and 19 other States submitted the resolution that established the Ad Hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.  It marked a significant step forward for the world community, in that it set up the Committee as the only standing body of the General Assembly to consider international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.


It was clear there would be parallel efforts, he said, such as the First Committee of the General Assembly and the Conference on Disarmament, to deal with disarmament aspects of outer space.  The Outer Space Committee was established and was concerned exclusively with the promotion of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.  He commended the notable role the Committee had played in advancing space cooperation, and he was particularly encouraged by the substantial progress that had been made in the work of UNISPACE III action teams.  There had been an extremely interesting exchange of views on the spin-off benefits of space exploration, and on strengthening the role of the Committee.


He was also pleased that the Committee this year considered a new item on dealing with space and society, and that it also considered international cooperation in satellite-aided search and rescue.  It was an excellent opportunity for delegations to share information on national and international efforts to demonstrate to the general public how space activities could enrich their daily lives.  Specifically, he noted the latest developments in the COSPAS-SARSAT programme.  Despite the intense rivalries of the cold war, experts from the United States, Canada, France and the Russian Federation had worked tirelessly to use space technology to assist aviators and mariners in distress.  Since its initial operation in 1982, COSPAS-SARSAT had assisted in the rescue of over 13,000 persons.


He also noted the success of the working group on nuclear power sources in space, particularly the fact that the group reached an agreement on a report providing key information on the difference between terrestrial and space nuclear systems and potentially relevant international conventions, among others.  Another priority topic was space debris, and he was pleased that the Inter-Agency Debris Coordination Committee had reached consensus on the proposed debris mitigation guidelines, and should this month receive final approval from its Steering Committee.


He mentioned the extraordinary record of success of the Legal Subcommittee, and said the Outer Space Treaty, which was now in its thirty-fifth year, had truly stood the test of time.  Its provisions remained as relevant today as they did at inception.  He also noted the progress in the consideration of the possibility of a Space Assets Protocol, while stressing the need for an adequate financing mechanism, given the level of interest and importance of private activities in the future development of outer space activities.  He also said States should clarify their criteria for national registration of outer space objects, as required by the Convention on the Registration of Space Objects Launched into Outer Space.  The United States, for example, as part of the process of upgrading its registry, intends to include all objects owned or operated by United States private or governmental entities, regardless of from where they are launched.  It will not include non-United States payloads.  As States clarify their domestic practice, overall international practice would be enhanced and all nations would benefit, he said.


LOUAY FALLOUH (Syria) said he recognized the importance of peaceful outer space activities, especially in light of the economic and scientific benefits such applications had for developing countries, and welcomed positive trends at the international level for such peaceful use.  Syria had, for example, established a remote-sensing authority to develop and preserve its environment.


Maintaining the peaceful uses of space science and technology required the international community's commitment to a clear legal framework to prevent an arms race in outer space, he said.  He welcomed efforts of some nations to reduce military expenditures for outer space, but was concerned with the continuation of programmes aimed at the militarization of outer space.  Further, he stressed the need to more seriously tackle the issue of space debris.  Regarding the Outer Space Committee's membership, he said he supported the applications of Algeria and Libya to the Committee.


JALAL ELASHI (Libya) said the peaceful use of outer space was a matter of great interest to his country, especially in view of its many positive contributions to development.  A network of cooperation within the United Nations system to address the challenges to sustainable development was needed.  Libya had created a remote sensing centre for space science to address such issues as desertification and underground water supplies.  Libya had also participated in the work of the Committtee and its subsidiary bodies.  Libya had applied for membership to the Outer Space Committee, and he hoped that that application would be supported.  As a member of the Committee, Libya would contribute to strengthening the role of the African countries.  Geographical balance within the Committee must be re-established.


On the issue of an arms race in outer space, he said that outer space was the property of all mankind and should be used in the service and prosperity of humanity.  Outer space must not be used for war.  He called upon all Member States to adopt legislation that would prevent the militarization of outer space.


SU WEI (China) raised the issue of preventing the militarization of the outer space, saying that his country had always maintained that the development and the use of the outer space should serve peaceful uses.  Although it was an arduous task, it was necessary to conclude binding international instruments on the negotiations preventing arms race in outer space.  Together with other countries, China wanted to make unremitting efforts to conclude relevant treaties and maintain a peaceful and tranquil outer space.


He said the issue of the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol on Matters Specific to Space Assets were issues of universal concern, as there had been in-depth discussions by delegations at the current session of the Outer Space Committee.  The proposed financing of space assets, and the guarantee system, should be based on the current Outer Space Treaty and should in no way violate the basic principles of that Treaty.


He noted that satellites of various kinds developed by China had found wide applications in such fields as science and technology, culture and defence, adding that China had incorporated space technology into its master development strategy in order to promote sustainable development. China had concluded intergovernmental cooperative agreements with many countries and had all along supported the efforts for peaceful uses of outer space, while maintaining that enhancing international cooperation in outer space should be based on equality, mutual benefit, mutual complement and common development.  China’s establishment of the Multilateral Space Cooperation Secretariat for the Asia and Pacific region in Beijing last January was designed to implement the principles of peaceful exploration and use of outer space formulated by UNISPACE III.


MARIANA OLIVERA (Mexico) said the proper use of outer space provided many opportunities for overcoming global problems.  The international community must use the various bodies and machinery of the United Nations system to promote, for all humanity, the benefits of the peaceful use of outer space.  The Outer Space Committee played an important role in that regard and its focus on such issues as environmental protection, education and communication was important.  The General Assembly's forthcoming evaluation of the UNISPACE III recommendations would provide the Committee with the opportunity to reorient its activities.  Science and technology could make important contributions to successful compliance with the goals of United Nations conferences, including the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development. 


Much remained to be done to promote the peaceful use of outer space for sustainable development, she said.  Substantive progress on a number of matters was needed and practical measures must be implemented to promote sustainable societies.  Mexico intended to work with the Committee on outstanding matters.  Mexico participated in environmental warning and monitoring systems, and regional cooperation in space science and technology was of great importance.  The regional education centre for space science and technology in Latin America and the Caribbean was making great strides in that regard.


Action on Draft


RAIMUNDO GONZALEZ (Chile), Chairman of the working group of the whole, introduced the draft resolution, on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (document A/C.4/57/L.5), saying that the text covered the work of the Outer Space Committee and its subsidiary bodies for the next year.  Although similar to the draft resolutions of previous years, this year's text was different in several respects.  The preamble stressed the importance of article IV of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.  The text also included the need to promote the use of space science and technology for achieving the social, economic and cultural development objectives of United Nations conferences.  It also urged United Nations entities to examine the use of space science and technology in the implementation of the follow-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development.  The working group had agreed upon the draft resolution by consensus.


The Committee Chairman, GRAHAM MAITLAND (South Africa), noted that the draft resolution contained no programme budget implications.


Acting without a vote, the Committee then adopted the draft resolution.

The representative of Libya, speaking in explanation of position, congratulated Algeria for becoming a member of the Outer Space Committee.  The issue of Libya's membership in the Committee was not a question of rivalry between the two countries.  He had supported Algeria's application for membership.  While Libya had agreed to the consensus on the text, his delegation was not entirely satisfied with the paragraph on Libya, however.  He hoped that the Committee would, in the future, favorably consider Libya's request for membership.


The representative of Algeria thanked those who had supported Algeria's membership in the Outer Space Committee.  Algeria would make every effort to contribute positively to that body's work.  Algeria had strongly supported the Libyan candidacy and would continue to support its membership in the near future.  The General Assembly should carefully consider the paragraph on Libya, so that that country could quickly join the Committee.  There should be no obstacle to any country's membership, so long as it made a positive contribution to the Committee's work.


The Committee CHAIRMAN thanked the Chairman of the working group for leading work on today's agenda item.


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For information media. Not an official record.