Outer Space Benefits Must Not Be Allowed to Widen Global Gap between Economic, Social Inequality, Fourth Committee Told, Concluding Debate on Item

GA/SPD/562
17 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 10th Meeting (AM)

Outer Space Benefits Must Not Be Allowed to Widen Global Gap between Economic, Social Inequality, Fourth Committee Told, Concluding Debate on Item

It was the world’s responsibility to ensure that the “fruits of the marvellous progress of science” benefitted the poor around the world, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard this morning.

During the final day of the Committee’s annual debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, delegates highlighted the importance of space technology for sustainable development as an important element for inclusion in the post-2015 agenda. 

The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See urged States to work together to ensure that space benefits did not become yet another cause of increasing economic and social inequality.

Favouring an international code of conduct towards advancing a fairer and safer use of outer space, he said care must be taken to ensure that outer space technology did not become an instrument of dominion and a vehicle for imposing certain cultures and values on others.

The representative of Pakistan said space was a crucial driver of socio-economic growth.  He went on to describe how his country benefitted from cooperation in its peaceful exploration and use, in such fields as agriculture, communication, conservation, disaster preparedness, and health.  Ukraine’s speaker sought a holistic approach to applying space science and technology to the core challenges of development. 

In a position often repeated during the three-day debate, the representative of Nigeria underscored the importance of equal and non-discriminatory access to outer space for all States; that would aim at improving living conditions, regardless of a country’s scientific, technological, and economic development.

In that vein, the representative of El Salvador emphasized the need for greater participation of least developed countries in efforts to ensure the peaceful uses of outer space and its support of sustainable development.  In that context, the country proposed declaring the realm a “zone of peace”.

The United States, said its speaker, welcomed space-related confidence building and arms control proposals, as long as they met the criteria of equitability, and were consistent with the country’s national security interests. He was pleased to join the Russian Federation and China in co-sponsoring a resolution on transparency and confidence building in outer space. 

Indeed, several delegates expressed the need for greater international cooperation and development of a code of conduct to prevent the militarization of outer space.  Also discussed were the risk of increased space debris and the role of space technology in mitigating natural disasters.

Statements were also made by representatives of Ecuador, India, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, South Africa, Colombia, Venezuela, Burkina Faso, United Arab Emirates, Republic of Korea, the Philippines, and Cuba.

The representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of right of reply.

The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 21 October, to begin its consideration of questions relating to information.

Background

The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to conclude its annual debate on international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space.  For background, see Press Release GA/SPD/561 of 16 October.

Statements

XAVIER LASSO MENDOZA (Ecuador) recognized the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) as the only international forum for the development of outer space law.  He fully supported its promotion of international cooperation to guarantee equal and true access for all States.  He supported promotion of space technology for sustainable development in line with the post-2015 agenda.  Ecuador expressed a specific interest in the role of space technology in connection with climate change and natural disasters.  He noted the need to speed up support for the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN–SPIDER), as well as for effective tools to prevent natural disasters.  His country, particularly vulnerable to earthquakes  and terrible floods, had already started three projects based on outer space technology to help protect Ecuador’s food supplies, with items such as a forecast model using space- and spectrum-based technology.  Pointing out the importance of current draft treaties on outer space, he said that an outer space arms race was a serious threat to peace and security, and that complying with existing norms was essential to preventing such a situation.

V. SRINIVAS PRASAD (India), acknowledging the recent significant achievements of various Member States in space endeavours, announced that his country had successfully placed its first inter-planetary probe in the Martian orbit last month.  Providing a broad overview of India’s space programme, he said it continued to integrate advances in technology and applications with national development goals.  Formal instruments of cooperation for peaceful uses of outer space were in place with 34 countries and three international organizations.  India continued to provide expertise and services to support developing countries in the application of space technology through capacity building.  The Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for Asia and the Pacific Region, affiliated with the United Nations and operating from India, had benefited more than 1,340 scholars from 53 countries.

 

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), underscoring the importance of space as a crucial driver for socio-economic growth, described how his country was benefiting from cooperation in peaceful exploration and use of outer space, in such fields as agriculture, communication, conservation, disaster preparedness, and health.  The country’s recently launched Space Education and Awareness Programme organized short courses for industry professionals and Government officials, and collaborated with academia for student projects.  Supporting the positive outcomes of the working group on Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities, he stressed the need for transparency and confidence-building measures, consistent with national interests, and as a means to achieving enhanced space safety and security.  Consultations on an international code of conduct should be pursued in an inclusive, universal, and participatory manner.  Much of the existing space debris was the result of activities of space-faring nations and, given the lack of resources in developing countries, those nations had a moral responsibility to assist new entrants in the implementation of the guidelines of COPUOS.  Pakistan was neither using nor planning to use nuclear power sources applications, he said, stressing that their use should comply with the global regulatory regime and applicable safety norms.

KIM IN RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) recalled that the United States and other hostile elements had made an issue of the peaceful launch of his country’s satellite, trying to block its peaceful development of the outer space.  Despite many sanctions, his country had been able to develop and use artificial satellites that were essential to furthering its economy.  His country was a State member of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, and its latest satellite had been registered with that Treaty, as required.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had increased funding for the education and training of outer-space scientists to raise promising experts in the field.  He stressed the importance of strengthening international exchange to ensure that technological achievements served the common aspiration for prosperity.

Finally, he addressed what he called the United States-led militarization of  outer space with the establishment of its missile defence system, stating that it was stirring up an arms race in outer space.  Such a move should be condemned as it was an outrageous challenge to international law.  He called on the United Nations Member States to join in the efforts to build confidence and transparency in the exploration of outer space.

YEHOR PYVOVAROV (Ukraine) said it was necessary to strengthen the strategic role of the Outer Space Committee and seek a holistic approach to enhancing coordination between Member States and the United Nations system in applying space science and technology to meet the challenges of development.  Regional and interregional cooperation and coordination the field were essential to assist States in developing their space capabilities, and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  He called for greater transparency in space activities, information sharing among States, and compliance with provisions of international space law to secure the peaceful nature of space activities.  Urging all Member States to enhance international coordination and cooperation in disaster management and emergency response, he called for extended and affordable strategies to minimize the impact of space debris.  A single and comprehensive convention on space law was desirable to strengthen the global legal regime.

MLUNGISI CEDRICK MBALATI (South Africa) said that the increase of space debris was a matter of concern due to the risk it posed to space systems, and the possibility of disrupting the space-based services on which everyone relied.  He noted the progress of the working group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities, and welcomed its proposed series of guidelines.  South Africa was committed to being a responsible user of outer space.  It joined the call for all nations to work together to preserving that environment for future generations.  His Government would ensure that all national, public, and private sector space activities were conducted in accordance with relevant international treaties.  In the domain of space law, the work of the legal subcommittee was vital to developing a shared understanding of the legal implications of the rapid development in the space arena.  South Africa was committed to utilizing outer space for peaceful purposes, and firmly believed that international cooperation was one of the best ways to preserve that realm for peaceful purposes.  In that, inter-regional cooperation also played role.  Thus, his Government, with all its African partners, was committed to ensuring that the benefits of space technology were extended to the rest of the African continent.

KENNETH HODGKINS (United States) noted that the Outer Space Committee was exclusively focused on the peaceful uses of outer space, while other United Nations organs were considering the matter in the context of disarmament and security.  His country emphasized international cooperation, and was addressing the problem of space debris, while promoting best practices for sustainable use of space.  The United States welcomed space-related confidence building and arms control proposals, as long as they met the criteria of equitability, and were consistent with the United States’ national security interests.

He was pleased to join the Russian Federation and China in co-sponsoring a resolution on transparency and confidence building in outer space.  Referring to the report of the Group of Governmental Experts, he said a United Nations inter-agency mechanism could provide a platform for the promotion and implementation of transparency and confidence building.  Also, recommendations for specific unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral, transparency and confidence building measures should be agreed.  He also suggested measures relevant to the long-term sustainability of space activities.  The Outer Space Committee’s legal subcommittee played a key role in establishing the primary Outer Space Treaties.  With those instruments in place, space exploration had flourished, thereby contributing to economic growth.  He welcomed the subcommittee’s multi-year work plan to review international mechanisms for cooperation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.

DIANA LUCÍA RENGIFO (Colombia), associating with Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), stressed the need to place space technologies in the service of the social and economic development.  It was essential to strengthen access to and use of space-derived knowledge in various dimensions of sustainable development, in the context of the post-2015 agenda.  Regional cooperation was central to harnessing space resources, she said, calling for the creation of mechanisms for information sharing that were relevant to her region.  The geo-stationary orbit was a limited resource and should be used in an equitable and fair manner, with particular consideration to geography.

HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela) reaffirmed that outer space must be preserved and used in an equitable manner and in accordance with international instruments.  He said the legal principle governing the use of outer space and protecting the right of equal access by all States was extremely important; therefore, he rejected all limits on space-based technology transfer to developing countries.  He recalled that the geo-stationary orbit was a limited resource that should be used based on rationalized access.  The current legal framework should be strengthened to avoid the militarization of outer space.  He welcomed the proposed treaty developed by China and the Russian Federation, and regretted that it had not been adopted, owing to the opposition of some Member States.  His country had promoted technology independence to achieve the well-being of its people.  He described agreements with Argentina, France, and China to develop space technology.

Finally, he reiterated his country’s commitment to the Outer Space Committee, convinced of the need to guarantee that realm was used for peaceful purposes only.

FILATENI COULIBALY (Burkina Faso) said the current generation bore the responsibility of making rational use of resources, including outer space.  Stressing his country’s commitment to the peaceful use of outer space, he urged the Outer Space Committee to work towards reducing the risk of militarization of space.  Further development of space laws in that regard was important.  Describing his country’s experience in the knowledge sharing of space-based tools for land security, he said the initiative would have an application for the broader social and economic development of the country.  Open international cooperation would promote the development of legal instruments to ensure sustainable and peaceful use of space.  It was indispensable to strengthen confidence among nations, he said, calling on the United Nations to create a database for use in natural disasters.

AHMED ABDELRAHMAN AHMED ALMAHMOUD (United Arab Emirates) urged expansion of the peaceful use of outer of space to achieve sustainable development.  The importance of international cooperation was key, and all should benefit by using space technology to prevent natural disasters.  Conferences held by the United Nations over the last two decades had been extremely important, and he praised the efforts of the Outer Space Committee and its two subcommittees.  He favoured a code of conduct for peaceful use of outer space, to ensure the implementation of international, law-based space activities, in the spirit of transparency.  He also urged the international community to pay attention to the problem of space debris.

Nationally, he said his country had established the Emirate Space Agency to work for the next seven years on activities such as sending satellites into space and promoting space exploration activities.  His country was determined to continue its development in science, space and technology, and to renew its commitment to the United Nations for the peaceful use of outer space.

ANTHONY BOSAH (Nigeria), stressing that space activities were becoming increasingly central to the lives of global citizens, said meeting development goals and rising challenges called for innovative measures, which advancement in space technology afforded.  Nigeria was committed to engaging with private, regional, and international space-faring entities in efforts geared towards and promoting peaceful uses of outer space.  The country’s national space agency was established to pursue the development and application of space science and technology, for the socio-economic benefit of the nation.  He underscored the importance of equal and non-discriminatory access to outer space for all States aimed at improving living conditions, regardless of their scientific, technological, and economic development.  Outer space was the common heritage of mankind, and Nigeria attached utmost importance to preventing an arms race there.

SANG-BEOM LIM (Republic of Korea) said that, considering the advantageous impact of space science on mankind as a whole, maintaining space for peaceful purposes and preserving it as a usable domain was incumbent upon all.  The Republic of Korea, as a State party to all major conventions on outer space, carried out all of its activities in that area in a peaceful, transparent, and safe manner, and in line with relevant norms.  Supporting efforts to develop an international code of conduct on outer space to ensure greater safety, he stressed the needed for strengthening transparency and confidence-building measures.  Highlighting his country’s accomplishments in sharing space-related benefits, he said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to abuse the right to peaceful uses of outer space, as a pretext to developing its ballistic missile programmes, which relevant Security Council texts clearly opposed.

LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines), aligning with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), reaffirmed the importance of space science and technology application in understanding the modern world, and advancing concrete efforts to the benefit of all mankind.  That would also further implementation of a post-2015 agenda.  However, outer space should be used peacefully and sustainably.  He affirmed the freedom of all States to access and exploration, and renewed his country’s commitment to the demilitarization of outer space.  He noted a few observations from the report of the Outer Space Committee, hailing it as a unique forum for discussions between the States involved in space activities.  The Committee, also, was poised to play a large role in the field of global security, he said, adding that space-based information was of vital importance to prevent and mitigate natural disasters.  The current legal framework, however, was not adequate to prevent the placement of weapons on outer space.  He reiterated his country’s position that outer space should be rules-based, and he acknowledged efforts made to develop a deeper understanding of the safe and secure use of outer space.  He also stressed the need for discussions on an international code of conduct to enable it to gain traction.

RUBÉN IGNACIO ZAMORA RIVAS (El Salvador) stressed the need for greater participation of least developed countries in efforts to ensure the peaceful uses of outer space, and harness it in support of sustainable development.  In that context, his country proposed declaring the realm a “zone of peace”.  Emphasizing the urgency of a comprehensive, multilateral code of conduct, he said it should be developed on four pillars: commonality, equality, peaceful purposes, and international cooperation.  As space was the common heritage of humanity, he urged the world community to work together to make that a reality.

DAVID FORÉS RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba) recognized the work of the Outer Space Committee, and reiterated its appeal to the international community to stop the threat of militarization of outer space.  The development of international legislation was incomplete on that aspect, and Cuba, thus, urged all Member States to discuss such an instrument.  The Outer Space Committee in fact, should work with the Conference on Disarmament to develop a strong framework.  It should also enhance existing legal instruments to guarantee the peaceful and just use of outer space.  Technological progress resulted in the commercialization of outer space; however, the geo-stationary orbit was a limited resource and must be protected.  Cuba had signed a joint declaration with the Russian Federation for the non-placement of weapons in outer space and hoped other countries would join the effort.

Despite the cruel international blockade, he said Cuba had further developed its outer space programme.  Early warning was very important to his country; hence, he emphasized the need to perfect weather forecasting, in order to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters.  The full autonomy of space activities by all States was impossible, and it was therefore all the more urgent to have international cooperation in information exchange, especially for the developing countries.  In closing, he voiced his country’s support for the Outer Space Committee’s work in raising awareness in order to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, said that, since the earliest days of human history, humanity had looked to the sky with wonder, longing to understand celestial realities and their meaning in relation to humanity itself.  Because of the foundational questions it had always raised, the exploration of the universe had also deepened understanding of faith and its rapport with science.  The world’s responsibility was to ensure that the fruits of the marvellous progress of science benefitted the poor around the world.  While there were constraints to universal access to the benefits, States must work together to guard against yet another cause of increasing economic and social inequalities.  The international code of conduct for outer space activities represented a positive step towards furthering a fairer and safer use of outer space, and averting a new, grave threat to international peace and security.  Care must be taken, as well, to ensure that outer space technology did not become an instrument of dominion and a vehicle to impose certain cultures and values on others.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of right of reply, said his country’s satellite programme was peaceful and fell within its sovereign rights.  The misrepresentation of its satellite launch was responsible for the imposition of sanctions, he said, rejecting the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Exercising his right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said the Security Council itself had characterized the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s satellite programme as a threat to international peace and security.

Taking the floor for a second time, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country would continue to launch satellites as part of its national development efforts.

Next, the representative of the Republic of Korea said it was regrettable that the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had stated his refusal to abide by Security Council resolutions, which were binding for all Member States.

For information media. Not an official record.