Space Technologies of Infinite Value, but Carry Double-Edged Potential for Good or Evil, Fourth Committee Hears, Warned of Possible Militarization of Space

22 October 2009
GA/SPD/434

Space Technologies of Infinite Value, but Carry Double-Edged Potential for Good or Evil, Fourth Committee Hears, Warned of Possible Militarization of Space

22 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/SPD/434
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

14th Meeting (PM)


Space Technologies of Infinite Value, but Carry Double-Edged Potential for Good


or Evil, Fourth Committee Hears, Warned of Possible Militarization of Space


Space Law Challenged by Threats of Debris-Operational Spacecraft

Collision, Outer Space Arms Race, Irresponsible Distribution of Satellite Imaging


As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) concluded its general debate on the peaceful uses of outer space this afternoon, delegates greeted the increase in the number of countries focusing on outer space issues, affirming space technologies as of “inestimable value” to the Earth’s population, but warned at the same time of the danger of its militarization.


Iran was gravely concerned over the likelihood of an arms race in outer space, its representative said, urging increased international awareness and preventative efforts to that threat.  Outer space was a common asset, but carried “great double-edged potential” for good or evil, he said.


While satellite products contributed to the well-being of all mankind, Iran was also concerned about the “misuse and irresponsible” distribution of satellite imaging through the worldwide web, he said, as that breached the privacy rights of individuals, inflicted irreparable damage on human societies and jeopardized the national security of States.  A proper collective response was required from the international community, and must be adequately addressed by the United Nations and related international organizations.


Sharing Iran’s concern about the possible weaponization of outer space, the representative of the Russian Federation said that the danger remained of outer space becoming a stage for an arms race.  That potential was damaging trust and confidence among States.  Preserving outer space solely for peaceful purposes was a pressing issue, which must consider the challenges of international security.  Full use of the United Nations must be made to prevent it. 


Towards that goal, the Russian Federation and China had presented an initiative to develop an agreement on preventing the placement of weapons in outer space, he said.  Space law still contained several gaps, and new thought must be given to begin a thematic discussion regarding elaborating a comprehensive United Nations convention on international space law. 


Similarly, Ukraine’s speaker underlined that contemporary international space law needed further improvement to respond to the challenges posed by such problems as the absence of a definition and delimitation of outer space, the use of nuclear weapons in outer space, and the threat posed by space debris.  Greater transparency in space activities should be maintained, along with information-sharing among States and compliance with the provisions of international space law.  He stressed the need to increase the number of States and international intergovernmental organizations adhering to the United Nations treaties on outer space, as one way to avoid collisions between debris and operational spacecraft. 


Also informing today’s debate was the use of space applications for development purposes, with several speakers stressing the important role that space technology could have in that arena.  Burkina Faso’s representative, also voicing support for the non-militarization, non-contamination and regulation of all peaceful space activities, emphasized that developing countries were lagging behind, and the transfer of space technologies to those countries had still not been effective.  Such countries were therefore exposed to the effects of natural disasters and climate change, which could otherwise be “warded off”.  That highlighted the need for an ongoing evaluation of disaster prevention and management, and a strengthening of those capacities, he said.


Along those lines, Australia’s representative emphasized the importance –- particularly to small island States -– of access to remote-sensing data and derived information, stressing that both things should be provided free of charge, or at a reasonable cost, and in a timely manner.  It was also important to build capacity through collaboration and shared experiences in the use of technologies, such as remote sensing technology, she said.


In other action, the Committee approved a draft resolution, without a vote, on the effects of atomic radiation (document A/C.4/64/L.8), which would have the General Assembly request the Scientific Committee to continue the review of the important questions in the field of ionizing radiation at its next session, and to report on that to the Assembly at its sixty-fifth session. 


By further terms of the draft resolution, the General Assembly would reaffirm the decision to maintain the present functions and independent role of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.  The Assembly would also request the Scientific Committee to continue its work, including its important activities to increase knowledge of the levels, effects and risks of ionizing radiation from all sources.


The representative of Canada introduced that draft resolution.


The representative of Peru spoke before approval of the draft, and the representative of Brazil spoke following that action.


Also speaking during the general debate on the peaceful uses of outer space were the representatives of Israel, Chile, Malaysia, United States, and Nigeria.


The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 23 October, to begin consideration of the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.


Background


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to conclude its consideration of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.  (The report before the Committee is summarized in Press Release GA/SPD/432 of 20 October.)


The Committee was also expected to take action on a draft resolution on the effects of atomic radiation (document A/C.4/64/L.8).  On that topic, the Committee had before it a letter dated 10 July 2009 from the Chairman of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, addressed to the President of the General Assembly (document A/64/223), which outlines the recent activities of that Committee.  (The letter is summarized in Press Release GA/SPD/431 of 16 October.)


By the terms of the draft resolution, the Committee would have the General Assembly emphasize the vital need for sustainable, appropriate and predictable resourcing, as well as efficient management, of the Secretariat’s work to arrange the annual sessions and coordinate the development of documents based on scientific reviews from Member States of the sources of ionizing radiation and its effects on human health and the environment.


Also by the terms of the draft resolution, the Committee would have the Assembly reaffirm the decision to maintain the present functions and independent role of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.  The Assembly would also request the Scientific Committee to continue its work, including its important activities to increase knowledge of the levels, effects and risks of ionizing radiation from all sources.


By other provisions, the Fourth Committee would have the Assembly request the Scientific Committee to continue the review of the important questions in the field of ionizing radiation at its next session, and to report on that to the Assembly at its sixty-fifth session. 


Further, the Committee would have the Assembly request the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to continue providing support for the effective conduct of the Scientific Committee’s work and for the dissemination of its findings to the Assembly, the scientific community and the public.


By other provisions, the Committee would have the Assembly urge UNEP to continue to review and strengthen the funding of the Scientific Committee, and to continue to seek out and consider temporary funding mechanisms to complement existing ones, and, in that context, encourage Member States to consider making voluntary contributions to the general trust fund established by the UNEP Executive Director to receive and manage voluntary contributions to support the Committee’s work.


Statements


DAVID WALZER (Israel) said that as this year marked the forty-ninth anniversary of the first manned moon landing, one cannot but marvel at the progress achieved since Sputnik first orbited the Earth over a half century ago.  However, progress was hard to achieve alone, and international cooperation in the area of space technology was essential, as joining forces assured substantive advances and technological breakthroughs.


He said that Israel had officially entered the space age with the launch of the OFEQ-1 satellite in September 1988, and had continued to place emphasis on the use of technological advantages in small, sophisticated satellites, space propulsion, and satellite-based technologies, such as remote sensing.  In the last year, the Israeli space industry had consolidated its links with foreign partners and sought to advance several projects to benefit the international community at large.  Project VENUS –- “Vegetation and Environment Monitoring New Micro-Satellite” –- was a cooperative project between Israel and France, in which multispectral cameras would provide accurate data for monitoring, analysis and modelling of land surface functioning under the influences of environmental factors and human activities.


He also highlighted the “special partnership” with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States (NASA), noting the STS-107 Columbia shuttle and the Mediterranean –Israel Dust Experiment.  Although that mission had ended in tragedy, Israel continued to support its partnership with NASA for the betterment of mankind.   Israel also aspired to join the European Space Agency (ESA) and was currently negotiating a framework agreement.  A satellite was also set to launch in 2010, through a collaboration with India.


The Israeli private sector was also a great contributor to the space industry, with more than 10 companies producing space products, he said.  Other private companies, as well as academic and research institutions, were exploring technologies to alleviate some of humanity’s most pressing environmental needs.   Israel was willing to expand its space cooperation and share its knowledge and expertise with other States, and by doing so, allow space access to those without the independent ability.  He invited scientists, especially from neighbouring countries, to utilize Israel’s observatory, saying it was open to all nations.   Israel could and should be a platform to bring States together, enhancing cooperation for the benefit of all.


RAIMUNDO GONZALES ( Chile) highlighted two upcoming space conferences:  the sixth Space Conference of the Americas, which was scheduled to be held in Mexico in November 2010, and the Diplomatic Conference, which would take place in Chile in July 2010.  There was also a favourable predisposition in Chile to become involved in the organization of a possible fourth United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE).  Several years had passed since the last UNISPACE.  In addition, the third meeting seemed to have been a turning point on the issues, a sort of quantum leap; action groups had been created, which had produced very specific results concerning the needs of developing countries.  The conference had signalled a move from rhetoric to action, from thinking to commitment -– all sought by developing countries.


He said that while Chile was very much up to date with attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, it needed the additional strength that space technology provided to continue its development efforts in that regard.  His delegation also felt somewhat discouraged because the draft resolution on the peaceful uses of outer space, which Chile and Mexico had worked on jointly, had been withdrawn.  He called on all delegations, out of simple curiosity, but also out of diplomatic duty, to look at the preambular and operative paragraphs of that resolution and reach a conclusion as to whether it would have been worthwhile.  In addition, he said it was necessary to strengthen the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), and to definitively move from words to action.


ESHAGH AL HABIB ( Iran) reiterated grave concern over the likelihood of an arms race in outer space, an issue which required increased international awareness and preventative efforts.  Space activities and applications played an essential role in the sustainable development of a “live nation”, and Iran was taking remarkable steps towards developing its space programmes.  His country was fully aware of the importance of international cooperation in space-related activities, particularly within the framework of the Outer Space Committee, for getting optimal benefit from space application.  Towards that goal, Iran had paid specific attention in recent years to holding regional workshops.  With the cooperation of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, several workshops and symposiums on space law, the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), and space science and technology had been organized in Iran.


Concerning an upcoming workshop on UN–SPIDER activities in the region, to be held in Tehran next month, he said he recognized the considerable merit of the UN-SPIDER program.  The vulnerability of Asian countries to disasters necessitated the implementation of that body’s work, as 91 per cent of all deaths from natural disasters in the past century had occurred in Asia.  With that in mind, Iran had fully supported the programme since its initial stage in 2007, and had expressed its readiness to host the UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office in June 2008.  Iran and the Office for Outer Space Affairs had finalized their discussions, and the Cooperation Agreement establishing that office had been signed on 4 June.  A network of regional support offices in Asia could be an effective coordinating apparatus to promote UN–SPIDER and maximize its advantages to all nations in the region for relief operations, and save lives and properties from natural disaster.


Satellite products made a substantial contribution to the well-being of all humankind and to the socio-economic development of all countries, he said.  However, it was a matter of grave concern that the misuse and irresponsible distribution of satellite imaging through the worldwide web breached the privacy rights of individuals, inflicted irreparable damage on human societies and jeopardized the national security of States.  Since those activities challenged the “peace of mind” of all States and societies, a proper collective response was required from the international community.  Regulation and dissemination of satellite imaging through the worldwide web was therefore of merit and relevance, and must be adequately addressed by related international organizations and the United Nations, particularly by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Outer space was a common asset, but it carried “great double-edged” potential, for good or for evil.


NG CHIN HUAT (Malaysia), aligning his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that his country’s second Earth observation satellite, RazakSAT, had been successfully launched on 14 July.  Malaysia would continue with its effort to strengthen international cooperation in disaster management by using that new facility.  In that regard, the country was willing to share with countries along the Earth’s equatorial belt region its remote-sensing satellite data with anyone wishing to use them.  That was Malaysia’s contribution towards supporting the efforts of UN‑SPIDER initiatives in helping the world to provide early warning against natural disasters, thereby, reducing loss of life.


He said that Malaysia had also lent its support in celebrating the International Heliophysical Year in 2007.  In continuing with its commitment, it would support the activity again this year.  His country was also collaborating with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in a microgravity experiment on board a space station.  It was experimenting with growing protein crystals in a microgravity environment on board the Japanese Experiment Module “KIBO”.  Malaysia had also joined others in celebrating the International Year of Astronomy for 2009.


MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) voiced support for the non-militarization, non-contamination and regulation of all peaceful space activities.  Since Burkina Faso had absolutely no desire for outer space adventures, he said his country was only concerned with how space applications could be derived for development purposes.  From that point of view, he said that space technology and activities could provide considerable contributions in many development fields, such as remote sensing, health, education, disaster management, meteorological forecasts, research and technology.  That confirmed the importance of outer space as an instrument for social and economic development, and for strengthening means for communication and information.


Unfortunately, he said, even today the developing countries were lagging behind, and the transfer of space technologies to those countries had still not been effective, thus exposing them to effects of natural disasters and climate change, which could otherwise be “warded off”.  Like other areas of the world, sub-Saharan Africa had experienced major floods, as a direct consequence of climate change.  That highlighted the need for an ongoing evaluation of disaster prevention and management, and a strengthening of those capacities.  The important conclusions and recommendations of the seventh African forum held on climate change, held in Burkina Faso last year, would be of use at Copenhagen.


The discussions on climate change to take place at Copenhagen were a reminder of the imperative need for UN-SPIDER to be made operational, and to allow all countries -– especially developing ones -- to have access to space services and to strengthen capacities for disaster management, he said.  The international community must step up cooperation for the peaceful uses of outer space and continue to support the work of the Outer Space Committee and its subcommittees to build up capacities.  All of mankind could benefit from that cooperation, and the time had come for the international community to act and meet new challenges.


KENNETH HODGKINS ( United States) said that the current General Assembly session was convened on the fortieth anniversary of perhaps the most significant technological achievement of our time –- the lunar landing of Apollo 11.  Much of the attention today was focused on the application of space techniques to the understanding and solution of terrestrial problems, and that was entirely proper.  But exploration remained an enticing goal and an important objective, as answers were sought to fundamental questions about the origins of the universe and life itself.  Project Apollo was an important early step in that ongoing process of seeking new knowledge, and the United States and its partners in the International Space Station Program, and now the Global Exploration Strategy, had built upon that legacy.


He said that this year also marked the tenth anniversary of UNISPACE III, the last major United Nations conference of the twentieth century.  The United States had been especially pleased with the breadth and scope of the topics considered at the conference, as well as the extensive involvement of leading scientists, Government officials, young aerospace professionals, and private sector representatives.  The emphasis on space application, private space activities, and potential opportunities for cooperation at that time and into the twenty-first century had made the programme of work highly relevant to the needs of both developed and developing countries.  For its part, the United States had supported the plan of action produced after the conference, and worked at national and international levels to ensure that as many of the recommendations as possible were fulfilled.


As the only standing body of the United Nations concerned exclusively with the peaceful uses of outer space, the Outer Space Committee had been extremely successful in fostering international cooperation, he said.  Whereas other United Nations organs, including the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), held competence to consider disarmament issues relating to outer space, the Outer Space Committee offered a forum focused on promoting the cooperative achievement -– and sharing –- of benefits from space exploration.  It was only fitting that the Committee and its Legal Subcommittee had a distinguished history of working through consensus to develop space law in a manner that promoted space exploration.


Notwithstanding the continued relevance of space law instruments, many States -– including some members of the Outer Space Committee -– had not accepted key treaties, he continued.  The United States had joined other delegations in the Outer Space Committee in encouraging States to consider ratifying and implementing the four main space law instruments –- 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), the Rescue and Return Agreement, and the Liability and Registration Conventions.


He added that the Legal Subcommittee’s consideration of the item on capacity-building in space law had been encouraging, because Member States and observers had had the opportunity to exchange views on efforts under way at the national and international levels to promote a wider appreciation of space law.  Additionally, the United States welcomed the draft curriculum on space law developed by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in conjunction with space law educators and representatives of the regional centres for space science and technology education, as an important capacity-building step in that area.


Making reference to a privately operated Iridium communications satellite that collided with an inactive Russian military satellite in February of this year, he said that the United States welcomed the decision of COPUOS to add to the agenda of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee a multi-year work plan entitled “Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities”.  Such an item would provide greater awareness on present and future challenges facing Governmental and non-governmental space operations, he said.


ANDREY V. KALININ ( Russian Federation) said that his delegation favoured the development of dialogue on all issues of international cooperation in reserving the uses of outer space for peaceful purposes, inter alia, for the resolution of global problems.  He welcomed the growth in the number of countries attaching priority attention to the issues of outer space, as outer space technologies were of “inestimable value” to the Earth’s population.  One such example today was UN-SPIDER, and Russia had, from the outset, a positive attitude towards that initiative, and was more convinced than ever of its importance.


He noted the progress in implementing UNISPACE III, but also pointed to the need for further steps in that regard.  He welcomed the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee’s two new subjects –- the international space weather initiative and the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.


The Russian Federation was proud of its contributions to the peaceful use of outer space to benefit the planet, he said, adding that the country’s role among the leading space-faring countries remained highly significant.  In 2008, Russia had been responsible for 40 per cent of all launches of delivery vehicles throughout the world, and was paying enhanced attention to programmes for manned space flights and fulfilling the needs of the International Space Station.  There had also been a significant increase in intense research and scientific experiments by the Russian segment of the International Space Station on geophysics, cosmic rays, and other topics.


He said that the achievement of important goals in the area of exploration of outer space was possible only on a solid and multilateral basis.   Russia favoured maintaining the central role of the Outer Space Committee in areas of research and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes.  However, the political and legal framework for space activities should be enhanced.  Unfortunately, there remained a danger of turning outer space into the stage for an arms race.  That potential was damaging trust and confidence among States.  The most important issue facing the international community was preserving outer space for solely peaceful purposes.  This must take into account the challenges of international security, and seek to make full use of the United Nations to prevent the militarization of outer space.


Towards that goal, Russia and China had presented an initiative to develop an agreement on preventing the placement of weapons in outer space, he said.  Space law still contained several gaps, and new thought must be given to begin a thematic discussion regarding elaborating a comprehensive United Nations convention on international space law. 


CAROLINE FOGARTY ( Australia) said that her country, through its Institute of Marine Science, supported the Integrated Marine Observatory System, which combined in situ data with that of satellites to understand and model the role of climate change in the coastal marine environment.  That was of vital importance to Australia, as well as to other Pacific countries, which faced particular risks from climate change.  There were several reception stations in Australia that were part of the Institute’s satellite remote-sensing facility, providing access for coastal, ocean and climate applications.  Australia was also working to set up the Great Barrier Reef Ocean Observing System, which likewise combined surface and satellite monitors, in that case, to document variability in the Western Coral Sea.


She said that Geoscience Australia, the country’s principal Earth resource satellite ground station and data processing facility, was also working on a range of satellite applications, in relation to disaster management, environmental monitoring and aquatic remote sensing.  There were also important research projects under way, which, in part, relied on satellite data.  One example was the Southwest Pacific Ocean circulation and climate experiment, which brought together scientists to better understand ocean circulation in the generation of local climate signatures.  Their diagnosis would aid regional sustainable development.


Australia, in its development of a national space policy, would investigate advancing its international and regional space cooperation and engagement, and how it could enhance its domestic capabilities and use of space applications and services, she said.  Her country stressed the importance of coordination and collaboration with regard to Earth observation data in supporting activities, particularly around sustainability and climate change issues.  It was important that access to remote-sensing data and derived information be provided free of charge, or at a reasonable cost, and in a timely manner.  That, of course, was of particular importance to small island States.  It was also important to build capacity through collaboration and shared experiences in the use of technologies, such as remote-sensing technology.


AUGUSTA IHENACHO ( Nigeria) welcomed the increasing interest of Member States in the demilitarization of outer space, the common heritage of mankind.  Despite numerous treaties that had been concluded since the item was first introduced to the General Assembly’s agenda, loopholes remained, including:  the prevention of the testing, deployment and use of weapons of mass destruction in space; the protection of objects in outer space from the use or threat of force from Earth; and the universalization of outer space treaties.  She urged Member States of the Outer Space Committee to support the resolution for the adoption of its report on its fifty-second session, along with its recommendations. 


Further, acknowledging the support of Member States for the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Ife, Nigeria, she appealed to them and to the Office for Outer Space Affairs to respond to the outstanding request for the deployment of space law experts to boost the Centre’s curriculum, as that would have a positive impact on the sustainable development aspirations of the institution and of Member States from the African region.  In closing, she noted that Nigeria would be launching its second Earth observation satellite -- Nigeriasat-2 -- in 2010.  The high-resolution spacecraft was expected to strengthen the resource mapping of the country and of the continent as a whole.  It would also enhance disaster monitoring and mitigation worldwide as part of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation of satellites.


ANDRIY KHARYTYNSKYI ( Ukraine) said that space-based observations should be used more in support of mitigation and adaptation measures related to climate change, since spin-offs of space technology were a powerful engine for technological innovation and could be applied to achieve social and humanitarian objectives.  A comprehensive assessment by the Committee of the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III and “UNISPACE III plus 5” was timely, and the Committee should discuss the possibility of holding a fourth United Nations conference on the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space.


He said that greater transparency in space activities should be maintained, along with information-sharing among States.  Compliance with the provisions of international space law was also needed to secure solely peaceful activities.  The use of satellites in medium-Earth orbit required further exploration, with a view to improving international satellite-aided search and rescue operations.  He also conveyed support for UN-SPIDER, and offered to host a regional support office in Kyiv.


Ukraine continued to carry out research on the problem of space debris, as the increasing density of that debris threatened the accessibility of outer space, both in the short- and long-term.  Noting the proposal made by Germany and Italy for the establishment of an international platform of data and information on objects in outer space, he said that that would be an important factor in avoiding collisions between debris and operational spacecraft.  It was also necessary to increase the number of States and international intergovernmental organizations adhering to the United Nations treaties on outer space.  Contemporary international space law also needed further improvement to effectively respond to the challenges posed by such problems as the absence of a definition and delimitation of outer space, the use of nuclear weapons in outer space, and the threat posed by space debris.


Action on Draft Resolution


The Committee then returned to its consideration of the effects of atomic radiation in order to take action on the draft resolution on that issue (document A/C.4/64/L.8).


Introducing the draft, the representative of Canada noted that the text was a compromise, which had been reached after many negotiating sessions.  It included a “very reasonable compromise” that both addressed the need for the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation to continue to do good work, while also developing criteria for the more effective participation of members of the Committee and potential new members.  The draft resolution would also allow for a decision to be taken on revised membership in a timely fashion.


He wished to suggest an oral amendment to the text:  the word “full” should be deleted from the very last paragraph, in reference to a decision on the membership of the Scientific Committee.


He said he was also pleased to note that there were a number of countries who wished to be added as co-sponsors:  Argentina, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, India, Lithuania, and Pakistan.


In addition, referring to paragraph 14 of the draft resolution, which said that a decision on the membership of the Scientific Committee should be made by the end of the current General Assembly session, he requested that the Fourth Committee Chairman leave the agenda item open to allow the Committee to come back to the issue.


Speaking before the adoption of the draft resolution, the representative of Peru said that, in 1955, the year when the Scientific Committee was created, the very Organization and the Committee itself had evolved.  Membership to the Scientific Committee should be adapted to the current reality.  Peru welcomed the interest of six countries in becoming members; however, the decision to add members should not be made to the detriment of the present ones, who were actively participating.  Paragraphs 13 and 14 of the draft resolution should only mention the addition of new members as long as a current member decided to voluntarily withdraw.  The issue required a calm dialogue, and Peru would participate in an open and constructive fashion in the preparation of guidelines on the matter.


The Committee then approved the draft resolution, as orally amended, without a vote.


Speaking after the vote, MARIA TERESA MESQUITA PÊSSOA (Brazil) said that Brazil had joined consensus on the draft resolution on the effects of atomic radiation because it considered it to be very important to have a unified expression of support from the General Assembly to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.  That was especially relevant since that Committee’s administrative and financial crisis had reached a “critical point”, postponing its annual meeting this year, which Brazil deeply regretted.


She reiterated Brazil’s understanding, on operative paragraph 13, that the criteria to which it refers were criteria and modalities for membership of the Scientific Committee in keeping with its mandate and aims, and based on the ability of Member States to actively contribute to its work, and should take into account an equitable geographical representation.  It should also seek to secure the participation of scientists from developing countries. 


She also stressed, on operative paragraph 14, her understanding that the decision to be taken by the General Assembly would be on whether or not the membership of that Committee would include current observer countries and would by no means re-examine the entire membership of the Committee.  A broader reform of that membership would necessarily entail the cross-cutting principle of equitable geographical representation in United Nations bodies. 


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.