|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-first General Assembly
9th Meeting (AM)
FOURTH COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXT ON WESTERN Sahara at CONCLUSION
OF DEBATE ON DECOLONIZATION ISSUES
Delegates also Conclude Discussion on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
Unable to reach consensus on Western Sahara this year, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this morning approved a draft resolution on that question, thereby concluding its consideration of decolonization issues before continuing its debate on the peaceful uses of outer space.
By a recorded vote of 76 in favour to none against, with 72 abstentions, the Committee recommended to the General Assembly that it underline Security Council resolution 1495 (2003), which expressed that organ’s support of the peace plan for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara as an optimum political solution, on the basis of agreement between the two parties to the dispute over that Territory. (See annex for details of voting)
Introducing the draft resolution, on behalf of the co-sponsors, Algeria’s representative stressed that, except for some technical updates, it was the same as the text adopted by consensus last year as General Assembly resolution 61/114. It was a balanced document that took fully into account the concerns of the parties as well as the fact that Morocco had joined last year’s consensus action.
Announcing that his delegation would abstain from voting, Morocco’s representative said in explanation of his position that after negotiations, agreement on the text had been reached with the Algerian delegation, but it had withdrawn from the agreement the next day. A flexible approach, taking numerous proposals and recent developments into account, had also been rejected due to lack of flexibility on Algeria’s part. By rejecting an agreement reached earlier and by its subsequent intransigence, Algeria was responsible for forcing the vote. And by abstaining, Member States would affirm that only a consensual approach and sincere cooperation among all parties would help to overcome the current impasse and foster a lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara question.
Following the vote, he said Algeria’s efforts to divide the international community by pushing the Committee to a vote showed the truly bilateral dimension of the conflict, of which that country was a fully-fledged part. Many countries, including those voting in favour of the draft resolution, had explained that their neutral votes were intended to encourage a negotiated political solution. Algeria must see reason and move towards a political solution that would respect Morocco’s territorial integrity, in accordance with United Nations principles.
Algeria’s representative said after the vote that his delegation had wished that the text, which reaffirmed the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination, had been approved without a vote and that Morocco had shown more consistency, wisdom and responsibility by joining the consensus as it had done last year. The text was a welcome victory for the people of Western Sahara in their fight for the right to self-determination.
After nearly 40 delegations had spoken in explanation of position on the vote, Committee Chairman Madhu Raman Acharya of Nepal said he had been inspired by members’ desire to reach a consensus. Having listened to the statements of position, it could be concluded that most delegations wished to encourage continued dialogue by the parties in order to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the question of Western Sahara.
As the Committee took up international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, several speakers noted that recent natural disasters had underscored the importance of space science and technology applications for disaster management, and welcomed the proposal by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to establish a United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (known as SPIDER).
Speakers from developing countries stressed that outer space should be the common realm of all mankind, as well as the need to exchange information in order to fill the existing gap between developing and developed countries. Jamaica’s representative noted the important link between the benefits derived from increased use of space applications on the one hand, and economic growth and sustainable development on the other, particularly for developing countries. There were other potential benefits to developing countries in the areas of tele-education, telemedicine, agriculture and water resource management.
Pakistan’s representative warned that it was essential to prevent the possibility of an arms race in outer space, and that greater responsibility in that regard fell on States with major space capabilities. Work should begin on developing legal norms to address new developments in space technology, and the work done by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space could be used in developing future legal frameworks.
Also speaking on that subject were the representatives of Thailand (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Japan, the Sudan, Republic of Korea, Chile and Egypt.
Speaking on the question of Western Sahara were the representatives of Peru, Chile, Senegal, Finland (on behalf of the European Union), Guinea, United Kingdom, Brazil, the Philippines, Guatemala, Myanmar, Russian Federation, Japan, Portugal, Sweden, Italy, Czech Republic, Greece, Malaysia, Belgium, Ireland, Egypt, Ukraine, Croatia, Slovakia, Thailand, New Zealand, Denmark, Cameroon, Canada, Norway (also on behalf of Iceland), Poland, Indonesia, Slovenia, Netherlands, Paraguay, Spain and Hungary.
The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 16 October, to begin its consideration of questions relating to information.
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to conclude its consideration of decolonization issues and its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
Regarding decolonization issues, the Committee had before it a draft resolution on the question of Western Sahara (document A/C.4/61/L.5) by which the General Assembly would underline Security Council resolution 1495 (2003), in which the Council expressed its support for the peace plan for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara as an optimum political solution on the basis of agreement between the two parties. It would also underline that the parties had reacted differently to the plan.
The Assembly would express its strong, continued support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy in order to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution to the dispute over Western Sahara, and would call upon the parties as well as the States of the region to cooperate fully with them. It would also call upon the parties to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in its efforts to resolve the fate of people unaccounted for, and further call upon the parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to release without further delay all those held since the start of the conflict.
Action on Question of Western Sahara
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria), introducing the draft resolution on the question of Western Sahara (document (A/C.4/61/L.5) on behalf of some 30 co-sponsors, said it was a complete replication of the resolution adopted by consensus last year as General Assembly resolution 60/114. Since no new political element had been seen since its adoption, the co-sponsors believed that it took up the consensual elements on the Western Sahara question and could therefore be renewed, including technical updates. The text was a balanced document that took fully into account the concerns of the parties as well as the fact that Morocco had joined the consensus last year. It was to be hoped that the text would be approved this year, but if a vote were requested, the co-sponsors asked Member States to support the draft.
Explanations of Vote
EL MOSTAFA SAHEL (Morocco), speaking in explanation of position before the vote, said that his delegation, committed to preserving the consensus in the Committee, had made good faith efforts to negotiate with Algeria in order to reach an acceptable solution. It had made several proposals, taking into account recent developments, but unfortunately, Algeria had rejected many of them. Despite that, however, Morocco had pursued negotiations and the two delegations had reached an agreement on 10 October. The next day, to the Moroccan delegation’s surprise, it had been learned that Algeria had gone back on the package deal. Nevertheless, Morocco had continued to show flexibility and had introduced new proposals. Due to the lack of flexibility on Algeria’s part, those proposals had not been successful either. Morocco had then formulated many proposals that could bring about the sought-after consensus.
He said that by rejecting the 11 October agreement and by its intransigence of 12 October, Algeria was responsible for dividing the Committee, thereby forcing a vote and breaking the consensus approach. By abstaining, Member States would affirm that only a consensus approach and sincere cooperation among all parties would help to overcome the current impasse and foster a lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the question.
The representative of Peru said his country had historically supported the peace plan for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, as it was a political solution negotiated in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The draft resolution suitably reflected that position and, for that reason, Peru would vote in favour of it. However, Peru’s decision should not be interpreted in a way that assumed favoured of one party over another.
The representative of Chile expressed regret over the failure to achieve consensus. Chile would vote in favour of the draft resolution which represented the last compromise text on the issue.
The representative of Senegal said a final vote on the draft resolution was risky. For almost a decade, the United Nations had maintained peace in the region, which was due to the patience and cooperative spirit of the parties. Senegal had advocated an approach based on dialogue, on the basis that it would take the parties away from confrontation and war. The text of the draft resolution did not take into account the concerns of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy, especially regarding the need for continued negotiations to find a mutually acceptable settlement. For those reasons, Senegal would abstain from voting, but remained hopeful that Algeria and Morocco would find a peaceful resolution that was in the best interests of the Maghreb region.
The representative of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed deep regret over the parties’ failure to agree on the draft. The European Union had strongly encouraged them to reach consensus, but its efforts had, unfortunately, not been successful.
The representative of Guinea said he regretted the lack of consensus based on the objective inclusion of the viewpoints of both parties. Guinea would therefore abstain from voting.
By a recorded vote of 76 in favour to none against, with 72 abstentions, the Committee then approved the draft resolution on the question of Western Sahara. (See Annex)
Explanations of Vote
The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking in explanation of position after the vote, said she had voted in favour of the draft and expressed regret over the fact that consensus had not been possible. The text was close to the one agreed upon last year and the United Kingdom hoped there would be progress over the coming months leading to an acceptable solution in accordance with United Nations resolutions.
The representative of Brazil said he supported the peace plan recognized by the Security Council and urged the Secretary-General to strengthen efforts to find a political solution. Brazil supported the Secretary-General’s efforts, his role in the process, the principle of self-determination and the commitment to find a mutually acceptable solution. Brazil’s vote should not be interpreted as an expression of favour for one party over another.
The representative of the Philippines said his delegation would have wanted the draft resolution to be approved without a vote and the parties to have made extra efforts to reach a consensus as a vote always divided members. For that reason, the Philippines had abstained from the vote.
The representative of Guatemala said her country had always supported the peace plan for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, provided that it was accepted by all parties. As that had not happened, Guatemala had abstained, but the abstention should not be seen as support for one party or the other.
The representative of Myanmar said his country had always supported independence for colonial countries in accordance with Chapter 11 and 12 of the United Nations Charter. Myanmar had voted in favour of the text and hoped both parties would continue, together with the United Nations, to pursue a just and lasting solution.
The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation, like others, had made efforts to help find a compromise solution and hoped that in the future, the draft resolution would be approved on a consensual basis. The Russian delegation was consistently following the line it had previously established of advocating the need for a just, long term and mutually acceptable solution to the dispute. That solution would include the support of the Secretary-General and be achieved through political means, based on goodwill and under the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.
The representative of Japan said it was regrettable that a consensus had not been reached, but there was room for improvement in the draft resolution and for that reason, Japan had abstained from the vote.
The representative of Portugal said he supported a just and lasting solution that would provide for self-determination and had encouraged the parties to strive for a compromise. Portugal renewed its support for the work of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy and deplored the fact that the Committee had been forced to a vote. Deeply regretting the lack of consensus, Portugal had abstained, which should not be interpreted as being in favour of either party.
The representative of Sweden shared other members’ disappointment that the two parties had been unable to arrive at an agreement. Sweden stood for a mutually acceptable solution to the question and its vote should not bee seen as taking sides.
The representative of Italy said his delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution, as it was identical to that of last year. Italy was strongly committed to the principles contained in the United Nations Charter regarding the right to self-determination and strongly believed in the rejection of violence to solve disputes. Italy strongly regretted the Committee’s inability to agree on a text today, and was deeply concerned over the state of affairs in Western Sahara. But it remained confident that all parties would spare no effort to find an appropriate settlement that included fruitful regional cooperation in the Maghreb.
The representative of the Czech Republic said his delegation deeply regretted the lack of a consensus on the question of Western Sahara and had abstained from the vote. However, that abstention was not intended to side with any party but rather, it represented the country’s desire to find a consensual solution.
The representative of Greece said she had voted in favour, but regretted that consensus had not been possible despite extensive efforts. Greece had traditionally supported the right of all peoples to self-determination, including the people of Western Sahara. All parties should cooperate fully with the United Nations to achieve a mutually acceptable solution to the question. Solutions could not be imposed and the consent of all parties involved was absolutely necessary.
The representative of Malaysia also expressed regret that consensus had not been possible. Malaysia subscribed to the principle of self-determination, but its abstention should not be seen as being in favour of any party. Rather, it should be seen as encouragement for the parties to reach a solution.
The representative of Belgium expressed regret that efforts for consensus had not been successful. Belgium’s role was to encourage the parties to find a peaceful solution and its vote in favour of the text should be understood in that spirit of neutrality.
The representative of Ireland said his country had supported the efforts to find a just and lasting solution that would allow for the self-determination of the Saharawi people. Ireland encouraged the parties to continue their dialogue and regretted that it had not been possible to achieve consensus on the draft resolution. However, the text did include the substantive elements for achieving it. The people of Western Sahara should be able to exercise their right to self-determination and Ireland had therefore voted in favour of the draft resolution.
The representative of Egypt said that given that all efforts had failed to achieve consensus, he had abstained from the vote. The Egyptian delegation remained convinced, however, that the question should be dealt with through dialogue and with the agreement of all parties involved -- given the good relations among the peoples of the Maghreb -- to arrive at a fair settlement.
The representative of Ukraine said her country supported a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution based on agreement between the parties. Regrettably, the tradition of consensus had not been preserved and more efforts could have been made to preserve it. Ukraine’s abstention from the vote should not be seen as favouring either of the parties.
The representative of Croatia said his vote in favour was the same as its vote for last year’s consensus text. It was the responsibility of the international community to resolve the issue.
The representative of Slovakia said his delegation had encouraged efforts to reach consensus, but regrettably, a vote had been forced. Slovakia’s vote in favour did not mean it was taking sides as the country remained committed to a negotiated settlement, taking into account the views of all parties concerned, including the people of Western Sahara.
The representative of Thailand said her decision to abstain reflected Thailand’s wish to resolve the issue in the interest of both parties and with the support of the United Nations.
The representative of New Zealand said she had voted in favour of the resolution to underline her country’s commitment to self-determination in accordance to United Nations principles and practice, as New Zealand had upheld regarding the question of Tokelau. New Zealand would have wanted Morocco and Algeria, with their crucial roles in finding an outcome, to agree on a text that would have drawn consensus support. Given their inability to agree, New Zealand had a regard for the overriding need for self-determination enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and for ensuring that the people of Western Sahara were made aware of their rights.
The representative of Denmark said she had voted in favour of the text but regretted that a consensus had not been reached. Denmark’s vote should not be seen as being in favour of any party. The text was a technical update and no progress had been achieved towards an acceptable, lasting and just solution.
The representative of Cameroon welcomed efforts made by the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to reach a mutually acceptable solution. Cameroon regretted that the main parties had not managed to achieve consensus, and had therefore abstained.
The representative of Canada said his delegation’s abstention emphasized its regret that the parties had been unable to reach a solution, as well as its regret that they had not made greater efforts.
The representative of Norway, speaking also on behalf of Iceland, shared other speakers’ disappointment that the two parties had been unable to arrive at an agreement and that consensus had not been reached. Norway and Iceland stood for a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the question, based on the principle of self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. The text should have been adopted by consensus and the fact that Iceland and Norway had voted in favour should not be seen as either country being in favour of either party.
The representative of Poland said he had voted in favour of the draft resolution, which contained key principles derived from the United Nations Charter, but his vote should not be regarded as siding with either party. Poland deeply regretted that the interested parties had been unable to reach consensus as that situation did not serve the people of Western Sahara. Both parties must continue their dialogue in order to reach a common understanding that would serve the Saharawi people’s cause.
The representative of Indonesia reiterated that a solution would only be found through dialogue and stressed that his abstention should not be interpreted as being in favour of either party.
The representative of Slovenia said that, while regretting that consensus had not been reached, she had voted in favour as the draft was based on last year’s consensus text. Slovenia supported the right to self-determination of all peoples, including the people of Western Sahara.
The representative of the Netherlands said he deeply regretted that the lack of consensus had led to a divided outcome that did not bring a solution the problem nor help the role of the Assembly. The Netherlands was neutral and had voted in favour, as it had done last year. All parties, as well as the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy, should continue to work towards a peaceful and lasting solution.
The representative of Paraguay said she had abstained as there had been a failure to achieve consensus, but abstention was not contrary to Paraguay’s support for the principles of the United Nations Charter and resolution 1514.
The representative of Spain said many delegations including his own had supported efforts to find a solution to the question of Western Sahara with a view to preventing division. Spain regretted deeply that it had not been possible to reach consensus especially since it had been achieved in the past. Spain’s abstention did not imply disagreement with the terms of the draft resolution, especially with respect to the basic principles for finding a solution. Rather, its abstention was a message to the parties and to States in the region with whom Spain shared a vision in the search for a solution to the current stagnation.
The representative of Hungary said he would have preferred a consensus approval of the draft resolution and regretted deeply the failure to achieve it. Hungary had voted in favour on the basis of the principle of self-determination, which should not be interpreted siding with either of the parties.
General Statements after Vote
Mr. BAALI ( Algeria), making a general statement, said the Committee had just approved a new draft resolution reaffirming the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. Algeria wished that it had been approved without a vote and that Morocco had shown more consistency, wisdom and responsibility by joining the consensus as it had done last year.
He said the just-approved text was a welcome victory for the Saharawi people in their fight for the right to self-determination as it rejected a policy that was trying to destroy all the progress that they had made. The 1990 settlement plan, the 2003 peace plan approved by the Security Council and resolution 1514 were a stinging rejection of Morocco’s policy to deny the Saharawi people their right to self-determination.
The victory was even more welcome as it came at a time when the Saharawi were being subjected to a fierce crackdown by the Moroccan occupying Power, carried out in secret as nobody was allowed into the Territory, he said. That approach had been denounced in a critical report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which recommended that the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination must be ensured and implemented without further delay. European parliamentarians, particularly those from Spain, had also denounced the travel ban and human rights violations. A number of Spanish parliamentarians had even been denied access to Western Sahara and the European Union had published a critical communiqué in that regard. The draft resolution confirmed the legitimacy of the rights of the Saharawi people, which must be defended everywhere and in all circumstances. Morocco was guilty of violating that sacred right.
Regarding the statement by the representative of Senegal, he said the fact that the people of Western Sahara had been precluded from exercising their right to self-determination lay at the heart of the impasse. The day when they could exercise that right would be the day when the Maghreb would see prosperity and serenity.
Mr. SAHEL ( Morocco) said Algeria had tried once again to divide the international community by pushing the Committee to a vote today, despite the efforts by delegations to reach a consensus. Algeria had shown that the true dimension of the conflict was bilateral and that, given its statement, it was a fully-fledged part of the conflict. Many countries, including those voting in favour of the draft, had explained that theirs were neutral votes intended to encourage a negotiated political solution. Morocco thanked those countries that had abstained and those that, through their neutrality, had not take part in the vote.
Regarding human rights, he said Algeria was a country that for many years had been in a state of siege and could not give the international community or Morocco lessons on that subject. Regarding the aforementioned report, it was not complete because Algeria had denied the Commission access to the Tindouf refugee camps in order to cover up the human rights violations for which it was fully responsible and for which it would have to respond in the future. Reality had been seen today and Committee members must realize that the Western Sahara conflict was a bilateral one. Algeria must see reason and move towards a political solution that would respect Morocco’s right to its territorial integrity, according to United Nations principles.
MADHU RAMAN ACHARYA ( Nepal), Committee Chairman, said he had been inspired by the desire of members to reach a consensus and had worked in that spirit. Having listened to the statements of position, it could be concluded that most delegations wished to encourage the parties to continue to engage in dialogue in order to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the question of Western Sahara.
Consideration of Outer Space Issues
ASIM IFTIKHAR AHMAD ( Pakistan) said that the need for space-system-based disaster management had become abundantly clear in the wake of recent natural disasters, such as the devastating earthquake that had hit Pakistan in October 2005. Satellite remote sensing and geographical information system had been used to map stricken areas, thus ensuring effective rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations. Prompt access to satellite remote sensing data had also been provided by the International Charter Space and Major Disasters.
He said the proposed United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (known as SPIDER) was welcome and timely, and expressed appreciation for the work done to make it possible. Meanwhile, developing countries should be involved in identifying new areas of space technology applications. Also, because the continued prosperity and welfare of nations hinged on the use of space technology, it would be a mistake to jeopardize the security of such a vital resource. Preventing the possibility of an arms race in outer space was essential, with greater responsibility falling on States with major space capabilities. Work should begin on developing legal norms to address new developments in space technology, and the work done by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space could be used in developing future legal frameworks.
As for Pakistan’s own projects, he said the country had provided the Virtual University with two transponders on its Communication Satellite. Using PAKSAT-1’s transporter bandwidth, two hospitals had been able to deliver telemedicine to
far-flung areas. Satellite remote sensing data had been used for cotton crop estimation. SUPARCO [Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission] projects also included aquaculture development, mangrove-forest assessment, vehicle tracking services and flood plain surveys, among other services.
KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand), speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the unfortunate recent natural disasters had underscored the importance of space science and technology applications for disaster management. ASEAN hoped to see further cooperation between United Nations agencies and its own members to enhance regional capacity in applying space science and technology to disaster management and sustainable development.
She expressed support for the United Nations Programme on Space Applications for its contributions to developing countries, including its sponsorship of the “Mapping Tsunami-Affected Coastal Aquaculture Areas in Northern Sumatra Using High Resolution Satellite Imagery” project, and the conclusion of meetings on new disaster management initiatives. Regarding the ASEAN Subcommittee on Space Technology and Applications, she noted the group’s February 2006 Workshop on Disaster Mitigation Using Remote Sensing and Global Information Systems had been held in Hanoi in February 2006. Other projects in the pipeline included the Urban Environments Identification and Accessibility Area Index; the Application of Remote Sensing in Water Resources Management; Capacity-building of Educational Institutions for Enhanced Promotion of Space Technology in South-East Asia; and the Training Workshop on Application of Satellite Altimetry Data.
TAKEOMI YAMAMOTO ( Japan) said his country had been striving to continue the reliable operation of its launch vehicles H-IIA and M-V since the return-to-flight mission of H-IIA in February 2005. Japan had launched H-IIA launch vehicles in January, February and September 2006. The M-V, whose capacities as a solid propellant launch vehicle were among the best in the world, had had successful launches in February and September, and Japan would continue to aim for successful launches while improving the reliability of its national launch vehicle technology. Japan had also been promoting the International Space Station in cooperation with all countries involved in that project, with its main contribution being the development of the Japanese Experiment Module “KIBO”.
On the occasion of the return to flight of the United States space shuttle programme, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi had contributed to the flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery, he said. The development of the International Space Station and “KIBO” would contribute to the further utilization of outer space. Japan had recently made several achievements in the field of space science and exploration, namely the successful landing of the “HAYABUSA” spacecraft on asteroid “ITOKAWA” as well as the successful launching of the x-ray satellite “SUZAKU”, the infrared astronomy satellite “AKARI” and the solar physics satellite “HINODE”.
He said Japan had been promoting international cooperation in a number of other fields, including earth observation. The twelfth session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) -- a yearly meeting held under Japanese auspices with the cooperation of international partners – had been held last October in Japan. The thirteenth session would be held in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 5 to 7 December. Japan continued to make significant contributions regarding the implementation of the UNISPACE III recommendations. It was also continuing its efforts in the mitigation of space debris. Japan could make important contributions to global prosperity by participating in international cooperative space activities based on a broad and long term vision.
ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM ( Sudan) said that applications of outer space technology affected various aspects of daily life all over the world including telemedicine, telecommunications, education, earth observation and navigation. Space technology had also been applied to flood protection, disaster alerts and the management of water resources. The Sudan, like other developing countries, would like to have that technology at its disposal to use for sustainable development, and to be able to react quickly to disasters, which had recently affected hundreds of thousands of people and caused damage worth billions of dollars.
He said that as a member of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, his country welcomed the outcome of its work in that regard. SPIDER working under the auspices of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, should liaise with regional organizations and countries. There was a need for information exchange in order to fill the gap between developing and developed countries in disaster mitigation and management capacities. It was important to avoid the weaponization of outer space, which must be maintained for exclusively peaceful purposes. Also, the problem of space debris should be addressed on a voluntary basis.
SAHNGHOON BAHK (Republic of Korea), noting the expanded application of space science and technology in promoting sustainable development and fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals, advocated the enhancement of global coordination for disaster management and emergency response through greater access to and use of space-based services. The Republic of Korea supported the proposed establishment of SPIDER.
On national achievements, he said his country had launched its second multipurpose satellite, KOMPSAT-2, in July and planned to launch KOMPSAT-3 in 2009. The Geostationary Communication, Ocean and Meteorological Satellite (COMS-1) programme was set to launch in 2008. Those achievements would allow the country better to carry out environmental, agricultural and ocean monitoring around the Korean Peninsula and across East Asia. The Republic of Korea also had continued efforts to develop an institutional environment conducive to technological development by enacting the National Space Law and related regulations in November 2005. To increase awareness of space-related issues, the Government had held events that included a Space Week in September 2005.
JUAN-JOSE GOLDNICK ( Venezuela) said outer space should be the common realm of all mankind and there was an urgent need to create a legal instrument that would both promote equal respect for space and guarantee balanced access to the scientific benefits derived from it. The United Nations and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space played fundamental roles in that regard.
He said the geostationary orbit was a limited resource that should be used in accordance with the principle of equal and rational access, particularly given the needs of developing countries. Venezuela upheld the principles of fostering the use of space for peaceful purposes and its cooperation agreement with China, which called for its acquisition of the Simon Bolivar satellite, would make it possible for the country to begin its national experience in the peaceful use of space. Last July, Venezuela’s National Assembly had considered a law on regulating the organization and operation of an agency to explore space for peaceful purposes, an initiative that demonstrated the importance that the country placed on that matter.
RAYMOND WOLFE ( Jamaica) noted the important link between the benefits derived from the increased use of space applications on one hand, and economic growth and sustainable development on the other, particularly for developing countries. In that context, Jamaica supported the potential establishment of a United Nations Programme on Space Applications, which in turn would complement the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III).
He said outer space should never be used for military purposes, and called for the establishment of effective mechanisms to prevent such a development, as well as efforts to promote greater transparency in the space activities of various States. Potential benefits for developing countries of the peaceful use of outer space lay in the areas of tele-education, telemedicine, agriculture and water resource management, among others. Jamaica noted with interest the establishment of SPIDER given the importance of space technology to disaster management and emergency response through improved risk assessment, early warning and monitoring of disasters. Jamaica was confident that the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space would harness the resources necessary for its activities.
RAIMUNDO GONZÁLEZ ( Chile ) expressed his disappointment that the topic had not been given the time it deserved as the time for discussion had been shortened. There had been a lack of consideration for many delegations that had come from afar to discuss aspects of crucial importance to developing countries.
AMR ELSHERBINI ( Egypt) said his delegation would have preferred more time to study the two draft resolutions.
Vote on Western Sahara
The draft resolution on the Question of Western Sahara (document A/C.4/61/L.5) was approved by a recorded vote of 76 in favour to none against, with 72 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, Uganda, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Abstain: Andorra, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Federated States of Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, Yemen.
Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, China, Congo, Cyprus, El Salvador, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Honduras, Iran, Kiribati, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Montenegro, Nauru, Niger, Pakistan, Republic of Moldova, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan.
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