Debating Outer Space Cooperation, Fourth Committee Hears Growing Number of Actors in Outer Space Could Risk Security of Space Assets, Limit Scope of Peaceful Uses
Debating Outer Space Cooperation, Fourth Committee Hears Growing Number of Actors in Outer Space Could Risk Security of Space Assets, Limit Scope of Peaceful Uses
While space technology was indispensable in addressing issues related to sustainable development and disaster management, the international community must work together for its harmonious use and prevent the militarization of outer space, delegates stressed today, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its consideration of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
Highlighting the many ways in which space technology had proven essential, not only for exploring outer space, but also for addressing many of the global challenges facing the world today, the representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the growing number of actors in outer space could risk the security of space assets. While additional legally binding multilateral commitments had been proposed against military threats, finding ways of making progress in the short term, and against all types of threats, was essential. Voluntary confidence- and transparency-building measures would allow relatively rapid adherence by a large number of countries, and could bring effective security benefits, he said.
Agreeing that outer space should only be promoted for peaceful purposes, Pakistan’s representative expressed concern that space, as a “common heritage of mankind”, was under threat of weaponization and an arms race. The insistence by States with major space capabilities on incorporating the use of outer space in respective military doctrines was a dangerous trend, which would limit the scope and progress on peaceful uses of outer space, as well as jeopardize common security. Confidence-building and greater transparency were needed in the space activities undertaken by various States, and negotiation of a comprehensive convention would contribute towards that goal.
Speakers also emphasized that the United Nations, through the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), should continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring that countries brought the benefits of space activities to people around the world. The representative of Uruguay, speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said that the Outer Space Committee had built an invaluable heritage in the area of law and international cooperation in outer space, and its essential function in the United Nations system should be maintained and strengthened. International cooperation was the cornerstone to maintaining the use of outer space solely for peaceful uses, and MERCOSUR had high hopes for the sixth Regional Conference of the Americas, which would take place in Mexico next year.
A number of delegates also highlighted the urgent need to enhance capacity-building so that developing countries could exploit available data. Pointing to the recent earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific region as reminders that much work remained to be done, Thailand’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), strongly encouraged strengthened efforts from the international community in early warning and prevention mechanisms, including through space technology, to better prepare for future catastrophes.
Along those lines, Saint Lucia’s representative underlined that, given the growing impact of climate change, such as the hurricanes that had struck the Caribbean, using satellite technology to monitor weather patterns was one area where space technology had been used peacefully with immediate benefits. Stressing that satellite technology and early warning were essential tools, which could reduce the impact of such disasters, he was encouraged to see that that space-based information had been recognized as playing a crucial role in tackling the enduring challenges faced by small island developing States.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Cuba, Kazakhstan, India, Syria, Sudan, China, Colombia, Philippines, Libya, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, and Indonesia.
The Fourth Committee will meet at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 22 October, to conclude its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. It was also expected to take action on a draft resolution related to the effects of atomic radiation.
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to continue its consideration of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. (The report before the Committee is summarized in yesterday’s Press Release GA/SPD/432.)
NORACHIT SINHASENI (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that outer space was initially explored with hope and curiosity. Yet while development of space technology was a watershed in the advancement of mankind, it could be put to both positive and negative uses. The concerted effort of the international community had so far been effective in preventing the uses of space technology for arms races and stockpiling. Instead, outer space now supported various development purposes, including communications, disaster management, and effective use of natural resources through accurate satellite sensing.
He said that according to statistics from the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the total number of natural disaster events in 2000-2005 had surpassed that of the whole 1990s. Data suggested that climate change had contributed to calamities of increasing scale and frequency. Space technology had great potential to monitor natural disasters more precisely and to support mitigation and adaptation measures related to climate change.
The recent earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific region was a reminder that much work remained to be done, he said. As a victim of the 2004 tsunami, ASEAN strongly encouraged the international community to strengthen efforts in early warning and prevention mechanisms, including through space technology, to better prepare for future catastrophes. However, outer space remained susceptible to abuse, and access was limited to certain countries. In that regard, ASEAN encouraged the role of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in ensuring rational and peaceful uses of outer space. Equitability must also be promoted to ensure that the benefit from those uses could be enjoyed by all.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said that Thailand had actively undertaken steps to promote and enhance cooperation for the peaceful and constructive uses of outer space, and had successfully launched its first remote sensing satellite, “THEOS”, last year. Thailand now stood ready to supply information on disasters obtained through that satellite, and had become one of the four nations -- together with India, Japan and the Republic of Korea –- to share timely and in-depth information with Sentinel Asia, a regional project on satellite information for disaster management.
MARTÍN VIDAL (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said that five decades ago, the General Assembly had decided, in resolution 1472, to establish the Outer Space Committee to promote cooperation on the peaceful uses of outer space. The Assembly’s decision had been based on the positive experience of the ad hoc committee established in 1958 and on the conclusion that the promotion of the peaceful uses of outer space should be an ongoing task of the Organization. Since then, that Committee had built an invaluable heritage in the area of law and international cooperation in outer space. MERCOSUR recognized the fundamental role played by the Committee within the United Nations, including in the preparation of the work of the Fourth Committee. MERCOSUR also firmly supported that the Outer Space Committee should maintain and strengthen its essential function in the United Nations system.
He said that reflection in the United Nations system regarding outer space issues should make it possible to prepare for the challenges of outer space cooperation for the next 50 years and beyond. One challenge was the long-term sustainability of activities in outer space, which was worrisome, owing to recent accidents between space objects and debris. That threatened the heritage of all mankind, and not only those countries and organizations that were currently involved in space activities. International cooperation was the cornerstone right now to maintaining the use of outer space solely for peaceful uses. MERCOSUR had high hopes for the sixth Regional Conference of the Americas, which would take place in Mexico next year.
Space technology was becoming ever more vital, in particular, as an instrument for the application of the recommendations of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and as a tool for finding rapid and adequate responses to the impacts of climate change, drought, desertification, the loss of biological diversity, the food crisis, and natural disasters, he said. Cooperation efforts must be oriented towards capacity-building, and developing countries should be able to receive, interpret and model space data for application in areas of social benefit. Towards that goal, international cooperation was an indispensable asset. South-South cooperation was also very valuable as a complement to North-South cooperation. Priority objectives for developing countries included strengthening national and regional capacities, investing in space technology, and education in science and outer space technology. Maintaining outer space for peaceful ends also called for sustained dialogue at the international level, he said.
STAFFAN HEMRÅ (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that during the 40 years since man first walked on the moon, space technology had proven essential, not only for exploring outer space, but also for addressing many of the global challenges facing the world today. Effective international space cooperation was therefore of importance to everyone. Space technology had become crucial in delivering communications services to some of the most isolated regions of the world, and was used by many to create national communications structures. Space technology was also used, and had the potential to be used even more, in forecasting and preventing natural disasters. It could also be used to more accurately measure phenomena linked to climate change and to mitigate their effects.
He said that the implementation of the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) programme was central to ensuring that all countries had access to, and developed the capacity for using, space-based information during all phases of disaster management, including the risk reduction phase. The growing number of actors in outer space was welcome, but could also risk the security of space assets. While additionally legally binding multilateral commitments had been proposed against military threats, it was necessary to find ways of reaching progress in the short term and against all types of threats. Voluntary confidence- and transparency-building measures would allow relatively rapid adherence by a large number of countries, and could bring effective security benefits.
In that spirit, the European Union had proposed a draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities, which was based on three principles: freedom for all to use outer space for peaceful purposes; preservation of the security and integrity of space objects in orbit; and due consideration for the legitimate security and defence needs of States, he said. In codifying best practices, the code contributed to transparency and confidence-building measures, and was complementary to the existing framework regulating outer space activities. Underlining the importance of measures to help the transparency, confidence and security of outer space activities, the European Union considered the universalization and implementation of relevant agreements and treaties to be of the utmost importance.
REBECA HERNÁNDEZ TOLEDANO (Cuba) said it seemed “paradoxical” that in the world today, $1.339 billion was spent on military matters. While some countries spent millions of dollars on an arms race in space, others tried to use outer space for noble purposes, such as sustainable development and the prevention of pandemics and natural disasters. The current space legislation was insufficient to prevent an arms race in space. The World Disarmament Conference, as the only international forum on disarmament, must play the main role in a multilateral agreement on the prevention of an arms race in space, in all forms.
She reiterated the importance of exerting more efforts to prevent outer space from becoming the setting for an arms race, as that would not only destroy the promising future of space applications, but endanger those applications’ very existence. Towards that goal, the Outer Space Committee should take a special role in promoting the peaceful uses of outer space, in improving and perfecting the ethical principles concerning outer space, and in ensuring the fair, non-discriminatory and peaceful uses of space technology and all its applications. Cuba continued to develop research on space applications for peaceful uses, such as the increased use of space technology, meteorology, telemedicine, and weather prediction based on high resolution satellite images. Organizational measures for preventative evacuation had made it possible to considerably decrease the loss of human lives during the devastating hurricanes that had recently struck Cuba.
The right of all States to explore and use outer space to the benefit of all humanity was a universally accepted legal principle, however, achieving full autonomy for space capacities for all States was not economically viable, “at least not in the near future” she said. As more States participated in space, greater multilateral and bilateral communication would be vital to the exchange of experience and technology, especially for developing countries. The interrelationship between the Outer Space Committee and the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development should be strengthened, and she hoped that that cooperation would make it easier to apply space technology for development, including issues relating to climate change and food security. Within that framework, international cooperation was also fundamental. She advocated closer cooperation between countries, adding that use should be made of the unlimited possibilities made available by space research.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) expressed support for the draft resolution on International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, prepared by Colombia, Chile and Mexico. Its operative provisions, especially the proposal to establish official links between the Outer Space Committee and the Commission on Sustainable Development, deserved particular attention.
She said that Kazakhstan had, on its territory, the Baikonur space launch site which, in addition to serving that function, also facilitated space science development and technology and helped foster international space cooperation. That cooperation was further supported by a Kazakh Government legislative framework for space exploration and a related space programme, which ran until 2020. In addition, two candidate cosmonauts from Kazakhstan were in the process of completing their training. Kazakhstan aimed to build a pool of highly qualified space professionals through Government sponsorship of bachelor and masters degree candidates at the world’s most prestigious universities in the field. That would guarantee the country’s future role in international, regional and national space programmes.
The use of outer space and the application of space technologies for peaceful purposes and sustainable development was an important sphere of international cooperation to ensure comprehensive social and economic progress, she continued. She expressed satisfaction with the recommendations of the Outer Space Committee, especially those relating to promoting regional and interregional cooperation and the wider use of aerospace equipment and technologies for economic growth and sustainable development. She also supported the use of those technologies in water resource management, emergency warning systems, prevention and mitigation, environmental monitoring, especially in developing countries, as well as for the global navigation satellite system.
ALI ANWAR ANSARI ( India) said in the last year, India’s space programme had included the launch of an orbital vehicle and a mission to the moon, both yielding satisfactory results. Launches were also scheduled over the coming months, in collaboration with other countries. In the area of applications, India had made progress in integrating advances in space technology and national development goals, including providing quality schooling through a tele-education project that had reached 35,000 classrooms, a telemedicine project connecting more than 300 remote hospitals with 57 specialized urban hospitals, and the establishment of 470 village resource centres.
He said that bilateral and multilateral relations with space agencies and related bodies were important to minimize the cost of access to space, take up new scientific and technological challenges and define international frameworks for using outer space for peaceful purposes. Formal memorandums of understanding existed between 30 countries and international organizations, many paving the way for sharing expertise in the use of space-derived information for sustainable development. India’s joint missions with France would provide useful data to understand tropical weather phenomena. Other missions provided information on agricultural crop monitoring, disaster management and sea level rises. India took great interest in capacity-building and services that enabled developing countries to apply space technology. For its own programme, India has been discussing at various levels the need for embarking on a human spaceflight programme.
MANAR TALEB ( Syria) said that space technology was important to addressing global epidemics, which assumed great significance, given the immense contributions of space technology in that domain. Accordingly, the seminar entitled “Space technology and epidemics” was an excellent initial pillar, but required further collective work. Increasing transparency in space activities would promote the peaceful, responsible and international character of scientific activities in outer space, and his delegation stressed the importance of involving more countries, especially developing ones, in a genuine manner in the international cooperation system of using outer space for peaceful purposes. His delegation also welcomed the assistance of UN-SPIDER to involve more countries in space activities that were under way, and to provide opportunities for those countries to benefit from those activities.
He said that it was also important to provide access without discrimination to remote sensing data and the information obtained from that data, at a reasonable cost or free of charge, and in a timely fashion. In addition, it was important to build capacities in using remote sensing technology, in order to meet the needs of developing countries. Furthermore, food insecurity and other crises made it imperative for everyone to squarely face the challenge to consolidate efforts to establish a global system that supported disaster management by using satellites and space technology. The promotion of international cooperation in the use of outer space for peaceful uses was a pressing need, and should be given due priority in the world today. By contrast, the introduction of weapons into outer space would undermine the use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
KHALID MOHAMMED OSMAN SIDAHMED (Sudan) said that the Outer Space Committee had assumed important roles since its establishment, especially in terms of setting international standards of space activities and enhancing international cooperation for the peaceful uses of outer space. He stressed the importance of setting equitable principles as well as concrete policies, including the use of outer space for the benefit of humanity, without discrimination. The United Nations had a significant role within that framework, and coordination was necessary on the part of Member States, the Committee, and relevant United Nations bodies to confront development challenges and climate change, natural disasters and disaster management, the food crisis, and other issues facing developing countries.
He said that enhancing cooperation and coordination required regional, interregional and bilateral cooperation. He commended the cooperation between the Committee on Sustainable Development and the Outer Space Committee, adding his hope that that relationship would be developed further. UNISPACE III (Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space) had also made strides in the fields of agriculture, land use, water resources, disaster management, and combating epidemics. He also welcomed preparations for the third African leadership meeting on the harnessing of space technology and science for development, to be held in Algeria in December. The progress of the Outer Space Committee, UN-SPIDER, and the Legal Subcommittee was “a model” for the success of the recommendations of UNISPACE III for attaining access to space technologies for developing countries. However, financial resources were insufficient to implement the programs, and he urged States to give financial support.
Additionally, he expressed support for activities undertaken with transparency in space activities and arms control, as tension and a lack of confidence must be avoided. It was also wise to confront the problem of space debris, and legal principles should be put in place in order to ensure that outer space was “cleaner and less risky”.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) recalled that his country had last year jointly tabled a draft treaty with the Russian Federation on the prevention of weapons and use of force in outer space. The draft had received wide welcome, and the early start of formal negotiations on the draft would also be welcome. Among many encouraging achievements of the last year, his country had strengthened its capacity in five areas: entry into space; satellite development and application; space infrastructure and ground support; manned space flights; and deep space exploration. The lunar exploration programme had resulted in the successful impact of a lunar probe earlier this year. Construction of China’s first low-altitude space launch site had also begun.
Furthermore, he said that space technology had been increasingly used in areas such as agriculture, forestry, land and water use, rural and urban development, environmental protection and meteorology. As part of exchange and cooperation activities towards the peaceful uses of outer space at the international level, China was host to the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization. It was hoped that the organization would be given observer status with the Committee. In May, China had signed an agreement with Brazil to provide Africa with data from a jointly held “earth-resources satellite”, through ground stations in South Africa, Egypt and Spain.
TAHIR HUSSAIN ANDRABI ( Pakistan) said that space was a common heritage of mankind, and there was a need to enhance international cooperation for realizing the shared goals of international security, disaster prevention and socio-economic development. Pakistan supported the efforts of the Outer Space Committee for maximizing the benefits of space capabilities for all countries and people, in fields such as the environment and health. That Committee had an important role in ensuring that the benefits from space-science technology also reached developing countries, but developed countries must have the political will and right priority to engage the developing countries in that field, including through sharing of experiences, technology transfer and new technologies, and non-discriminatory, affordable and timely access to relevant data and information. Pakistan also supported the call for rational and equitable access for all States to the geostationary orbit.
He said that Pakistan, for its part, had made steady progress in the application of space sciences and technology in various fields. The country’s lead agency in the field was the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission, and it continued to make progress in projects and programmes ranging from education to telemedicine, agriculture, irrigation, monitoring of watercourses and floods, natural resource management, satellite meteorology, environmental surveying and other areas. The agency was also planning to initiate a space education and awareness programme to promote the use of space technology and its applications.
Pakistan was deeply concerned that “our common heritage” was under threat of weaponization and an arms race, he said. The insistence by States with major space capabilities on incorporating the use of outer space in respective military doctrines was a dangerous trend, which would limit the scope and progress on peaceful uses of outer space and jeopardize common security. There was a need for confidence-building and greater transparency in the space activities undertaken by various States. Negotiations of a comprehensive convention would contribute towards that goal, and the Outer Space Committee could play a constructive role in that regard. While the question of the prevention of an arms race in outer space should continue to be considered at the Conference on Disarmament, his delegation believed that the work of the Outer Space Committee was also closely related. Those two bodies should develop a working relationship and an open channel of communication.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia), aligning her delegation with the statement made on behalf of MERCOSUR, reaffirmed the principle that all States had access to outer space in conditions of equality, and independent of its levels of scientific, technological or economic development. She also reaffirmed the principles of non-appropriation, non-militarization, and regional cooperation on the realization of space activities. The Outer Space Committee’s contributions had resulted in the promotion of a better understanding of the interaction between the behaviour of Earth’s systems and human development.
She said that it was greatly important to place space technologies at the service of society and sustainable development. The United Nations Program on Space Applications included thematic issues that were a priority for developing countries, such as the management of natural resources, supervision of the natural environment, disaster response, long distance education, long distance medical practice, and basic space science. Regarding climate change -– “one of the most important challenges of our time” –- the recent forum on space technologies and space information for the analysis and prediction of climate change carried out in the Republic of Korea was an important contribution of the Outer Space Committee. International cooperation for education and training in the field of space technology was indispensable, particularly those efforts directed at strengthening research and training centres.
The development of space legislation was of particular importance to Colombia, she said, and her delegation was encouraged by the project before the Legal Subcommittee for a programme of study on space law, to be undertaken by the Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology. She welcomed the proposal made by the Committee’s chairman on “United Nations Space Policy”, which offered a “coordination horizon” among Member States and the United Nations system on the application of space science and technology, in accordance with the developmental needs of all countries.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. (Philippines) opened by noting that tropical storm Ketsana had poured a month’s worth of rain over a 12-hour period, triggering massive floods in metro Manila and surrounding areas in a scope never seen before, leaving 420 people dead, 37 missing, and 540 injured. It affected almost 890,000 families and caused untold financial damage and loss to property. One week later, typhoon Parma hit the northern part of the Philippines and, today, another typhoon, Lupit, was expected to hit.
“Reconstruction and rehabilitation will take years. With their indomitable spirit and strong faith, Filipinos will prevail,” he said.
However, there was good news in all this, which was that the tragedy had united the people and the United Nations, and the international community had demonstrated its genuine humanitarian response, he said, expressing appreciation for the valuable assistance of UN-SPIDER during the typhoons. The satellite data provided by the programme was of great use for the planning of future disaster mitigation and response. During the onslaught of Ketsana, UN-SPIDER had made a special effort to consolidate satellite data on the typhoon and its impact, including post-disaster imagery to support the response effort. The recent onslaught had allowed the Philippines to experience the usefulness of satellite imagery in tracking the movement of typhoons. When satellite imagery was combined with modern information distribution, the data could be sent rapidly to affected communities and local emergency agencies as early warning, before disaster struck.
DONATUS KEITH ST. AIMEE (Saint Lucia) said that using satellite technology to monitor weather patterns was one area where space technology had been used peacefully, with immediate benefits. That was notably important, given the growing impact of climate change, such as hurricanes that had struck the Caribbean. Satellite technology was a necessary monitoring tool, and it also provided an early warning system, which could accompany land-based seismic data systems to reduce the impact of such disasters. He agreed that the Outer Space Committee had to work more closely with specialized United Nations bodies and agencies.
He said he was encouraged to see that the Committee had recognized how space-based information could play a crucial role in supporting the long-lasting challenges faced by small island developing States. Saint Lucia hoped to highlight that perspective by actively taking part in the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). The island was pleased to note that outer space was being used for peaceful means such as the Space Conferences of the Americas, among other regional initiatives. It looked forward to the outcome of the Third African Leadership Conference on Space Science and Technology for Sustainable Development, in Algiers towards the end of 2009. The European Union’s code of conduct, which had taken a safety- and security-oriented approach to outer space activities, was noteworthy.
Saint Lucia also wholeheartedly supported the use of space-based systems in areas such as agriculture, land use and disaster management, he said. It also agreed with the Outer Space Committee that those would encourage sustainable development and help reach the Millennium Development Goals. The issue of space debris remained a major concern for the planet, and efforts must be redoubled to ensure that catastrophic collisions and the re-entry of space debris were avoided. That could only be done through international cooperation. Just as small island States were on the front lines of climate change not of their making, the arbitrary impact of space debris falling to Earth placed everyone in danger. He also warned that using space as a weapon remained a key hindrance to peace and security on Earth, arguing that knowledge and understanding on outer space had to benefit, and not destroy, mankind.
EZZIDIN BELKHEIR ( Libya) welcomed the initiative of the chairman of the Outer Space Committee to supply information to cope with the world’s development challenges. Today, the effects of outer space on development were obvious. Because of the problems of climate change, desertification and natural disasters, space science for developed and developing countries alike took on even greater importance. He also emphasized the importance of preserving the space environment and “avoiding the mistakes mankind made on Earth”, saying it was necessary for international organizations to protect outer space from human activities, primarily from space debris. He lent strong support for the demilitarization of outer space, opposing the threat of the use of force against objects in outer space, and he highlighted the importance of easy access by all States, in an equitable manner.
He voiced concern over the increase of incidents of satellite collisions and over explosions on the moon and their effects on the lunar environment and the space environment in general. He called on States not to use explosive devices in outer space, unless it was necessary for saving lives.
Given the number of victims of natural disasters today, he stressed that early warning systems were vital. Although there was no way to reduce the effects of those disasters, information cold be rapidly conveyed to affected areas, through the creation of an effective early warning system. For that purpose, easy transmission of data must be ensured, without any politicization. The goal was to reduce the number of victims through the use of information, and in that respect he welcomed UN-SPIDER’s programme through 2011.
SIN SON HO (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that outer space was the common property of all mankind. The exploration and use of outer space for a peaceful purpose was granted as a legitimate right of all countries. His country, as a State party to the Outer Space Treaty (Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies), had successfully launched its satellite “Kwangmyongsong 2” on 5 April.
He said that in the course of launching and operating the satellite, which had been developed entirely from the country’s own resources and technology, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had accumulated a wealth of experience and made significant progress in laying scientific and technical foundations for the launch of practical satellites in the future. Recently, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States (NASA) had acknowledged and registered on its website that the satellite had been the eighteenth launched into space this year.
His delegation would request the Legal Subcommittee of the Outer Space Committee to make a legal clarification regarding the Security Council’s “tabling” of the issue of his country’s satellite launch and adoption of its so-called “presidential statement”. The first issue was whether the peaceful launch of the satellite by his country on 5 April was against international law. If the launch was regarded as a non-breach of international law, then the action taken by the Council should be open for examination. Noting that the Council’s action had caused serious confrontation and aggravated tensions on the Korean peninsula, he said that the issue should be fully scrutinized in the proper legal context. The second issue was whether it was fair for the Council to bring into question the exercise by Member States of their sovereign rights under international law.
The action taken in the Security Council against his country was a clear indication that the Council was not only “devoid of democracy”, but was also “beyond its limit” in pursuing double standards and partiality, he said. The United States, claiming that the launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a “ballistic missile” launch for a military purpose, had tabled the issue in the Security Council. In fact, the country that had launched most satellites so far, and which possessed more than 400 space objects for both military and civil uses in outer space, was the United States. Following the United States’ logic, the first country to face the condemnation and sanctions should be none other than the United States itself.
He said that his country, as a State party to the Outer Space Treaty, would continue to fulfil its responsibility and role in the peaceful use of outer space, and actively promote the exchange of technology and cooperation for the scientific exploration of space with developing countries and other nations.
KATSUHIDE ARIYOSHI (Japan) said his country would accelerate diplomatic efforts towards formulation of appropriate rules in space activities to develop human resources so that people could play a leading role in space-related international forums. Additionally, Japan would use its space technology to protect human beings from the threat of disasters, climate change and other catastrophic events. On climate change, Japan would contribute to the exploration of policy options, through the Japanese satellite “IBUKI”, which measured greenhouse gases on the global level with high accuracy. It would also contribute to resolving the global environmental and energy problems through leading-edge research and development, and promote space science and human space activities.
He said that “KAGUYA”, Japan’s lunar exploration mission “of the largest scale”, completed on 11 June, had acquired large amounts of data and achieved tangible results to advance its study of the origin and evolution of the Moon. Among other advances, Japan had also developed its own Space Debris Mitigation Standard and had played an important role in the work of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee. It would promote observation of orbital objects, in order to better identify the debris population, leading to the mitigation of debris, and coordination to remove them with international cooperation. It would also participate proactively in making an appropriate international framework to manage the debris issue.
Japan was also promoting international cooperation via, among other things, DAICHI, Advanced Land Observing Satellite, he noted. Through official development assistance (ODA), it had supplied developing countries with modern astronomical equipment, and in collaboration with educational and space agencies in developing countries, Japan would continue to work towards identifying the best ways to promote space education and to support sustainable development in those countries. Japan would seek to further enhance international cooperation, along with members of the United Nations and Outer Space Committee, for the benefit of all.
ANDY RACHMIANTO (Indonesia) said that in 1975, his country had become the first developing nation to operate its own domestic satellite system, and was now operating its fourth-generation satellite. That experience had proven that space-based technology could make significant contributions to the acceleration of socio-economic development. In that light, the promotion of space-based technology for sustainable development, agriculture, telemedicine, tele-education, water and natural resource management, and disaster mitigation should be mainstreamed in the work of the Outer Space Committee.
He said that international cooperation was crucial to space activities, and Indonesia contributed actively to strengthening that cooperation, despite being a developing country. Indonesia had also supported UN-SPIDER since its establishment. That body had made considerable progress with its programme. The platform had proven useful in the prediction of natural disasters and, as a disaster-prone country, Indonesia would continue to support its future work.
Turning to the issue of space debris, he said that the effective implementation of the Outer Space Committee’s Space Debris Mitigation Guideline would depend heavily on the commitment of all countries towards transparency in their space activities and space objects, particularly if those activities carried potential harm. Regarding the geostationary orbit, he stressed that that was a limited natural resource with sui generis characteristics, which risked saturation and over-exploitation if not utilized wisely and naturally. He called for assurances that it would be used only for the benefit of all countries, through application of the principle of equitable access for all States, taking into account the geographical situation of particular equatorial countries and the needs and interests of the developing world.