Space security, safety and sustainability dominated debate today in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) and although there was broad agreement on the need to preserve that realm for the public good, divergent views emerged on how best to achieve that, with some speakers defending a non-legally binding code of conduct that took into account the political environment while others called for a binding treaty via an inclusive and transparent process.
Problems faced in outer space were security issues in a broad sense, said France’s representative, of the view that a comprehensive response covering both civilian and military aspects was needed. The development of a code of conduct for outer space activities addressed that need for both a comprehensive approach, and transparency and confidence-building measures, whereas a legally binding instrument would have to define what constituted a weapon in space, she said.
The European Union’s representative said that a non-legally binding international code of conduct for outer space would be an important contribution to addressing challenges stemming from dangerous orbital debris and thus the potential for destruction collisions, as well as crowding by satellites and the growing saturation of the radio-frequency spectrum. Outer space assets, operated by a growing number of governmental and non-governmental entities, offered enormous benefits, but ensuring the space environment for peaceful uses must be on an equitable and mutually acceptable basis.
A major space-faring nation, the United States, said its representative, was particularly concerned about the continued development and testing of destructive anti-satellite systems, and contrary to the advocacy by some States for arms control measures to prevent the use of force against space objects, the development of those capabilities by some of those same States could trigger “dangerous misinterpretations and miscalculations” and escalate a conflict.
He understood that some nations preferred a new legally binding arms control agreement, such as the June 2014 draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects, offered by the Russian Federation and China at the Conference on Disarmament. But, he argued, that text was “fundamentally flawed” and could not form the basis of negotiations in Geneva. The United States was convinced that many outer space challenges could be addressed through practical near-term initiatives, such as non-legally binding transparency and confidence-building measures.
It was clear, asserted the Russian Federation’s representative, that one country wished to dominate outer space and to use force in that realm if necessary. Whether it was wanted or not it was a reality that nevertheless had to be dealt with. He was surprised and shocked when colleagues from Europe and the United States talked about the “already existing threats” of anti-satellite weapons. Nations should all agree to not be the first to place weapons in outer space, and adopt a resolution to that effect.
The representative of China, noted the draft treaty — jointly proposed with the Russian Federation — on preventing the placement of weapons in outer space from 2008 and its updated version, presented last June. Given the temptation to achieve a strategic advantage provided by military space capability, he added, the growing tendency towards space weaponization was having a greater impact on space security. He called on all countries to work for more convergence and start multilateral negotiations on an arms control treaty for outer space.
Speaking on behalf of the Union of South American Nations, the representative of Uruguay said that the proposal on a legally binding instrument presented by the Russian Federation and China was a positive step. Having followed the recent deliberations on an international code of conduct, sponsored by the European Union, the Union of South American Nations was of the view that while resolutions on not being the first to place weapons in outer space were important, those could not replace legally binding measures.
Wrapping up its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction, the Committee heard from the representative of Japan, who strongly and categorically condemned the continued use of toxic chemicals as weapons by any party in Syria. He hoped that all chemical weapons-production facilities would soon be physically destroyed in accordance with the Convention on Chemical Weapons.
The representative of Syria said his country was committed to all aspects of that Convention in its entirety, as a State party and as a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). But its goals could not be achieved without the commitment of Israel, which was the only party that had not yet joined the treaties and conventions related to weapons of mass destruction.
Also speaking today during the weapons of mass destruction cluster were representatives of the Russian Federation and Iran.
Additional speakers in the outer space cluster were representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Armenia (on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Egypt (on behalf of the Arab Group and in its national capacity), Algeria, Pakistan, Venezuela, Australia, Japan, Switzerland, Cuba, Kuwait, Italy, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Iran, as well as an observer of the Holy See.
Exercising the right of reply in that debate were the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday, 26 October, to begin its thematic debate on conventional weapons.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to conclude its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction and to begin consideration of the thematic cluster on outer space (disarmament aspects). For more information see Press Release GA/DIS/3530.
Thematic Debate, Other Weapons of Mass Destruction
TOSHIO SANO (Japan) said the Chemical Weapons Convention had significantly contributed to peace and security, but it required strengthening in order for it to be implemented nationally; national implementation measures would serve as a fundamental tool for preventing the re-emergence and proliferation of chemical weapons. In that vein, Japan welcomed the near-completion of the chemical-weapon destruction process outside Syria and expressed hoped that all chemical weapons-production facilities would soon be physically destroyed in accordance with the Convention. He strongly and categorically condemned the continued use of toxic chemicals as weapons by any party in Syria. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-Unite Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, set up through Security Council resolution 2235 (2015), would help identify the perpetrators, and Japan called for the cooperation of all parties in Syria.
Japan had also been committed to the destruction of abandoned chemical weapons in China, he said, adding that, like the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention had also contributed to peace through disarmament. At the same time, tremendous advances in science had increased new biological threats. Therefore, the universalization of the Biological Weapons Convention to enhance national security had become more important than ever. As the Convention’s eighth Review Conference approached, the international community needed to start extensive dialogue on ways to fortify the treaty.
VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation), associated with the BRICS [Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa], said he shared the hopes for a stronger Biological Weapons Convention. His delegation had been taking steps to find possible solutions to the myriad problems through broad international involvement and agreement. Taking into consideration various opinions, including from civil society, the Russian delegation had, in an August 2015 working paper, proposed that a conference be held in that regard. That proposal contained a mandate for a new open-ended working group to begin work in 2017 on concrete measures to improve the treaty’s implementation. The negotiated mandate, which would define parameters for a future legally binding instrument, should be as broad as possible to reflect current intergovernmental realities. Success depended on value-added results by all States parties and regional groups. The treaty’s implementation needed to be supported by national resources, absent its own resources to be implemented internationally. The Russian Federation called on for mobilization of political will and participation in the November conference.
Turning to the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said the Russian Federation welcomed the joining of Angola and Myanmar, and called on all countries outside the Treaty to follow suit. He reaffirmed his country’s attachment to the full destruction under international control of all remaining chemical weapon stocks, and noted the unprecedented success in the destruction of Syria’s. In that connection, he also noted the positive role of the Syrian Government and its unswerving cooperation with the parties that had helped it to carry out the destruction. He supported the battle of the Syrian people against terrorism, which could secure its further existence. Given the importance of what had occurred, he said that the programme had strategic importance and was related to Israel’s nuclear programme. All remaining work should be through the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), without additional politicization, which included increasing the controversy surrounding the issue. That could derail attention from the OPCW’s work and could skew the “true issues” at hand.
ASAAD IBRAHIM (Syria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that since the beginning of the crisis in his country, the Government had warned against the use of chemical weapons by terrorist organizations, some of which were affiliated with Al-Qaida. However, despite such warmings, entities such as the United Nations and others did not move to prevent terrorist organizations, such as ISIL [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] from using chemical weapons against civilians. That reluctance represented a blatant violation of Security Council resolutions against terrorism and on combatting the use of weapons of mass destruction. Syria was committed to all aspects of the Chemical Weapons Convention in its entirety, as a State party and as a member of the OPCW. But its goals could not be achieved without the commitment of Israel, which was the only party that had not yet joined the treaties and conventions related to weapons of mass destruction.
Noting the terrorist attack committed in Boston, United States, in April 2013, he said the perpetrator had used what was classified by the courts as a weapon of mass destructions. Syria severely condemned any terrorist attacks anywhere in the world, but what had happened in Boston led his country to question the American definition of weapons of mass destruction. As per that country’s own classifications, successive American administrations had used all kinds of mass destruction weapons, including nuclear, chemical and biological, as well as conventional weapons, in all parts of the world.
REZA POURMAND-TEHRANI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, called for the full implementation and universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention, not only because of Iran’s desire for the security and economic benefits of its membership, but also because of its experience as a victim of chemical weapons in recent history. He welcomed the substantial progress achieved in the destruction process in Syria as a result of the Syrian Government’s cooperation, and looked forward to a professional, impartial report from the fact-finding mission, urging it to respect Syria’s sovereignty and take into consideration the observations and shortcomings of the previous such endeavour. He emphasized the role of the Biological Weapons Convention, and the decision of the seventh Review Conference to include cooperation and assistance as a standing agenda item. However, an effective mechanism was needed to ensure the full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of article X of that Convention.
Thematic Debate, Outer Space (Disarmament Aspects)
KAMAPRADIPTA ISNOMO (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty brought new challenges to strategic stability and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. The Movement remained seriously concerned at the negative security consequences of the deployment of strategic missile defence systems, which could trigger an arms race. It was also concerned about the developments related to anti-ballistic missile systems and the threat of the weaponization and militarization of outer space. The Movement reiterated its call for the commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a universal, legally binding instrument on the matter, stressing that the elaboration of any code of conduct for outer space activities should be consistent with the respective mandates of all relevant United Nations bodies and such negotiations should be held in an inclusive, transparent, and consensus-based multilateral manner under the Organization’s auspices. Also important was for the process to have a proper and unequivocal mandate, without specific deadlines. Further, it should take into account the interests of all States.
TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia), speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said that its member States shared the concerns of the international community about the possibility of an arms race in outer space. Its member States continued to attach importance to the use of outer space exclusively for peaceful purposes. That goal could only be addressed by the development of a legally binding document. He welcomed the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects, an updated version of which had been presented by the Russian Federation and China in June 2014, and he looked forward to negotiations on the text in the Conference on Disarmament.
FREDERICO GONZALEZ VIVAS (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Union of South American Nations, shared the interest in exploring the peaceful use of outer space for the benefit of all of humanity. The Union’s member States believed it was necessary to develop national technology in that field and provide opportunities for egalitarian access to space for peaceful purposes. They were also committed to improving the multilateral framework in that regard. It was in the interest of the international community to begin negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prevent the placement of any weapon in outer space, and the proposal presented by the Russian Federation and China was a positive step. The Union’s member States had followed the deliberations in July on an international code of conduct on the issue, sponsored by the European Union, and valued it, but the initiative required a multilateral approach for it to be effective. Resolutions on not being the first to place weapons in outer space were important confidence-building steps, but those could not replace legally binding measures.
TAREK MAHFOUZ (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, expressed its strong conviction about limiting outer space to peaceful uses only. The international treaty that sought to ban weapons from outer space had played an important role, but as outer space was the common heritage of the human race, all activities in that area should be under the Organization’s aegis so as to guarantee the principles of universality, equality, and international consensus. An attempt to regulate such activities, be that under a code of conduct or an international treaty, should not obstruct the integral right of all States to make peaceful use of outer space. He reiterated the need to maintain that area, free of war and litigation. It was therefore important that no weapons be deployed there, for defensive or offensive purposes, and he sought the creation of an international mechanism to that effect.
JACEK BYLICA, representative of the European Union, said the group had a longstanding position in favour of preserving a safe and secure space environment for peaceful uses, on an equitable and mutually acceptable basis. Strengthening the safety, security and long-term sustainability of outer space activities was in the common interest and a key priority. Outer space assets, operated by an increasing number of governmental and non-governmental entities, offered the world enormous benefits, unimaginable just a few decades ago. Today, however, those benefits were accompanied by significant challenges stemming from dangerous orbital debris and thus the potential of destructive collisions, as well as crowding by satellites, the growing saturation of the radio-frequency spectrum, and the threat of the deliberate disruption of satellites. Those challenges called for the serious and timely involvement of States to ensure the realm’s greater safety, security and sustainability. A non-legally binding international code of conduct for outer space would be an important contribution.
ROBERT WOOD (United States) said that in considering options for international cooperation to ensure space security and sustainability, some nations would prefer to pursue a new legally binding arms control agreement, such as the June 2014 draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects, offered by the Russian Federation and China at the Conference on Disarmament. The United States continued to believe that the text, however, was “fundamentally flawed” and could not form the basis of negotiations in Geneva. His country was particularly concerned about the continued development and testing of destructive anti-satellite systems, and contrary to the advocacy by some States for arms control measures to prevent the use of force against space objects, the development of those capabilities by some of those same States could trigger “dangerous misinterpretations and miscalculations” and escalate a crisis or conflict.
In contrast to the approach advocated by some States, he said, the United States was convinced that many outer space challenges could be addressed through practical near-term initiatives, such as non-legally-binding transparency and confidence-building measures. United States’ experts, along with a number of group of governmental experts from other countries, had noted that some such measures, such as the Russian Federation’s initiative for States to make declarations of “no-first placement” of weapons in outer space, failed to satisfy the experts’ criteria. Other measures did meet the criteria, such as providing collision avoidance notifications. The United States was already implementing such measures and encouraged others to do the same.
MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said the possibility of an arms race in outer space could have negative consequences on the economy. He supported the document submitted by the Non-Aligned Movement in 2015, which expressed concern about the issue of weapons in outer space, as that could have “hazardous results for all of mankind”. Algeria, like other States, saw that the current legal system had gaps and was insufficient to prevent an outer space arms race. States should work together in the Conference on Disarmament, and he welcomed the Russian Federation’s initiative in that respect, which would include monitoring activities in outer space. He also welcomed General Assembly resolution 69/38. His country had taken note of the work of the Group of Governmental Experts and the study aimed at creating transparent cooperative environments in accordance with resolution 65/68. He took note of the draft code of conduct creating transparency of activities in outer space, which would govern future activities and pave the way for a legally binding document.
TEHMINA JANJUA (Pakistan), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems and their integration into space assets had added a worrying dimension to the outer space-related issues. The international community should avoid the mistakes made in the case of chemical weapons and preclude the possibility of weaponizing outer space. In that regard, it must ask for a clear expression of the underlying reasons that obliged certain States to oppose negotiations on a proposed treaty on preventing an arms race in outer space. Those States should acknowledge their responsibility in perpetuating the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament.
ALICE GUITTON (France), associating with the European Union, expressed her country’s commitment to maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes. The space environment was steadily deteriorating, and that was why the priority must be to ensure the viability and security of space activities. The problems faced were, in the broad sense, security issues, which required a comprehensive response that covered both civilian and military aspects. The development of a code of conduct for outer space activities addressed that need for both a comprehensive approach, and transparency and confidence-building measures. A legally binding instrument would have to define what constituted a weapon in space.
ALFREDO FERNANDO TORO-CARNEVALI (Venezuela), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Union of South American Nations, said that the sustainable development of outer space gave humanity the opportunity to make progress in a number of areas, including medicine, agriculture and scientific technology. It was important, therefore, to work together to guarantee that such activities were for peaceful purposes and to avoid militarization. An armed conflict in outer space would have devastating consequences on Earth and destroy the prospects of space activities and their potential for humanity. Unfortunately, armed conflict of that nature was not as distant as one might hope. Development of satellites for military purposes had increased, including dual-use satellites. The militarization potential of outer space had become increasingly disquieting. He welcomed the work done by the outer space committee, and by the governmental expert group on that subject. Noting the code of conduct proposed by the European Union, he said all such efforts were steps in the right direction, however, none could replace the imperative need to achieve a multilateral legally binding instrument to prevent the militarization of outer space. In that regard, it was necessary to negotiate a treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
DARREN HANSEN (Australia) expressed concern at the proliferation of space debris. Over time, if nothing was done to address the problem, the space domain would be rendered unusable for human endeavour, and reducing the debris would become difficult and costly. Australia encouraged States to implement the Group of Governmental Experts’ 2013 consensus report on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities and it supported the development of a code of conduct to secure consensus on norms that would facilitate outer space activities. Anti-satellite missiles had the potential to create vast amounts of space debris, which endangered all space assets and space-enabled services upon which countries relied. Indeed, that was the most pressing threat to space infrastructure, and any space security initiative should address that.
ATSUSHI SAITO (Japan) said that the rise in the number of satellites had led to congestion in space and a greater volume of space debris, which posed the risk of severely impairing satellite function if collisions occurred. Japan would proactively pursue partnerships with other States in realizing and reinforcing the rule of law in outer space. It had been promoting efforts with the international community towards formulating the international code of conduct for outer space activities, which stipulated measures to prevent the further creation of space debris and to restrain actions that directly or indirectly damaged space objects. With regard to the draft treaty on the prevention and placement of weapons in outer space, there were a number of issues that needed to be carefully examined.
MATTHIAS HALTER (Switzerland) said that outer space was being used in increasingly varied ways, and it was becoming more crucial than ever for States’ development, economy and security. The international normative framework should be strengthened in order to maintain security in outer space and ensure its continued, long-term use. His country opposed the use of force against space systems and the placement of weapons in outer space. It advocated development of different types of international instruments, which were legally or politically binding, in support of a gradual approach to new space regulation. As a first step, countries could adopt transparency and confidence-building measures based of the Group of Governmental Experts’ report. The General Assembly, through resolution 68/50, had referred that report to the Conference on Disarmament and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
That Committee, he noted, was comparing the experts’ recommendations with its own guidelines aimed at ensuring long-term sustainability of outer space use. The Conference on Disarmament could focus on those recommendations that related to military matters and encourage their implementation. Armed combat in space would have catastrophic repercussions and everything must be done to prevent that. The international community should define a common understanding of what constituted use of force in space or against space systems. There should not only be a ban on weapons in space but against developing and testing them, especially anti-satellite weapons capable of generating space debris.
JI HAOJUN (China) said that as a result of the rapid development of space technology and the growing number of space-faring nations, that environment was increasingly deteriorating in the face of evident risks caused by orbital congestion and space debris. Those risks, as natural results of space exploration, could be mitigated through cooperative efforts by the international community. At the same time, given the temptation to achieve a strategic advantage provided by military space capability, the growing tendency towards space weaponization was having a greater impact on space security. China and the Russian Federation had jointly proposed a draft treaty in 2008 on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, and had submitted an updated version last June. He called on all countries to work for more convergence and start multilateral negotiations on an arms control treaty for outer space.
RODOLFO BENTIEZ VERSON (Cuba) said that the militarization of outer space threatened the future of humankind. All States had a legitimate right to access outer space without discrimination. Cuba had committed to not be the first to place weapons of any kind in outer space, and to preventing an arms race in outer space. It was important to strengthen the legal regime for outer space to guarantee security and transparency, and he strongly supported the adoption of a treaty for that purpose. The draft submitted by the Russian Federation and China was a good basis for negotiations. Confidence-building measures were relevant and necessary, but those must be discussed and agreed upon by consensus by all Member States. Any proposal for a code of conduct or confidence-building measures must leave no ambiguity. Regrettably, outer space was already congested, because of the large numbers of spy satellites that benefitted some nations but not all of humanity.
MOHAMMED AL-HUWAILAH (Kuwait), associating with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the applied science and technology related to outer space, such as Earth observation systems and satellite navigation technology, represented an important contribution to efforts aimed at promoting development everywhere in the world. Outer space had become necessary for modern life, but its ideal use would not be possible without a multilateral effort guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter. To maintain peace and security in those efforts, the focus must not be simply on regulating the peaceful uses of space through unilateral measures, but rather through a broader-scope process. He reaffirmed that it had become necessary to begin negotiations on a comprehensive international instrument that was non-discriminatory to prevent the placement of any weapons in outer space.
VINICIO MATI (Italy), associating with the European Union, said he was conscious of the increasing human reliance on outer space, and placed the utmost importance on ensuring that outer space remained peaceful for the benefit of all. While space capabilities were critical, not only to the economy, but also to national security, the main challenge today was the growing spectrum of threats against space objects. Those would increase as more nations and non-State actors developed and deployed counter-space systems, such as jamming, ground-site attacks, laser or kinetic energy attacks, direct ascent anti-satellite technologies and orbital anti-satellite weapons. The first step towards achieving more safety and security in space was the adoption and implementation of trust and confidence-building measures. An international code of conduct should be pragmatic and based on a preventative approach to foster international cooperation.
AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said that the human race had long suffered due to the arms race over land, sea and air. Outer space must not be another arena for an arms race. All countries, including those that had technology to launch space orbital objects and those that did not, would be affected by the grave consequences that would arise in the case of an outer space arms race. In addition, the deployment of weapons in outer space could seriously threaten the security of outer space assets and had the potential to harm the Earth’s biosphere and give rise to the phenomenon of space debris. The existing legal framework on outer space needed to be strengthened since the political climate concerning that realm’s sustainability and security had changed drastically. The use of outer space increased the need for greater transparency, confidence-building measures and better information.
FERNANDO LUQUE MARQUEZ (Ecuador), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Union of South American Nations, called for a legally binding instrument to preserve the peaceful nature of outer space. In that regard, Ecuador had co-sponsored a draft resolution to not be the first to place weapons in outer space. An arms race in outer space would represent a very serious danger for international peace and security. He urged compliance with existing norms in light of universal principles such as banning the use of force, and had noted with interest China and the Russian Federation’s presentation at the Conference on Disarmament of a draft treaty to prevent the placement of weapons in outer space. Any discussion, such as a proposed code of conduct, should take place in a forum with a General Assembly mandate.
VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation), aligning with the Collective Security Treaty Organization, with China and the other BRICS members, as well as with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the main issue to be addressed was the question of whether or not there would be weapons in space. The First Committee should not “waver” and bring in other issues related to outer space that should be discussed in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization). There was a need to recognize the obvious fact that if one particular country was open about its opposition to any efforts by the international community aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space, then the Russian Federation could fully and openly understand that position. It was clear that one country wished to dominate outer space, and to use force in that realm if necessary. Whether it was wanted or not it was a reality that nevertheless had to be dealt with.
He recalled that the United States, in 2001, had unilaterally withdrawn from cooperative discussions on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and opened up the possibility of the militarization of outer space. Everything flowed from the essential question of whether or not there would be a weaponization of outer space. Everything being said by the United States delegation and others in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), looked, at the very least, to be insincere. Immediately after the withdrawal by the United States from that agreement, in 2001, the Russian Federation and China had begun the process of developing transparency and confidence-building measures, and every year, they had agree on a resolution on that position. He was surprised and shocked when colleagues from Europe and the United States talked about “already existing threats” of anti-satellite weapons. Nations should all agree to not be the first to place weapons in outer space, and adopt a resolution to that effect.
SHAMEEM AHSAN (Bangladesh), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said extensive research and advanced space technology made possible further conquest of outer space, which constituted a common heritage of humankind. States with major space capabilities bore particular responsibility in ensuring the peaceful use of outer space and in preventing an arms race there. Further measures should be taken with appropriate and effective verification provisions to prevent such an arms race, in view of the increasing threat that it would be weaponized. The Conference on Disarmament, as the only multilateral disarmament forum, should commence negotiations without delay on matters relating to the prevention of an arms race in outer space. He affirmed the immense importance of transparency and confidence-building measures, including a non-legally binding code of conduct among Member States to prevent an arms race in outer space. However, such a code must not be considered a substitute for a legally binding instrument.
TAREK MAHFOUZ (Egypt) said that outer space was “equally owned by humankind” and was a “common asset”. Any regulation should aim to improve that environment for the full, and not limited, use by all States. Outer space should remain free of any potential conflict, and its weaponization — whether offensive or defensive — by any State must be prevented. Egypt and Sri Lanka had tabled a resolution on the issue in the First Committee on an annual basis. As a member of the United Nations Outer Space Committee, it urged the international community to make available and fully accessible relevant technical assistance and technological exchange to all countries.
KANG MYONG CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said outer space was the common property of mankind, to be explored and used by all States on the basis of equality. His county, as a proud space-faring nation capable of manufacturing and launching satellites on its own, had a great interest in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space. It continued to concentrate its efforts on the development and utilization of application satellites that were necessary for scientific research and the economic development of his country. At the same time, his country was expanding and promoting exchange and cooperation with the international space organizations and institutions of other countries. That was in exercise of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s sovereign right under universal international law on the exploration and use of outer space as well as the exercise of its legitimate right as a State party to the Outer Space Treaty.
YE GYAW MRA (Myanmar), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that outer space was a heritage of mankind and must be explored and utilized solely for peaceful purposes. Transparency and confidence-building measures were a prerequisite for preventing the misuse of outer space and should therefore be vigorously encouraged. States with major space-related expertise and capabilities bore the primary responsibility for realizing the objective of the peaceful uses of outer space as well as that of preventing an arms race there. Myanmar, together with other like-minded nations, shared the view that the Conference on Disarmament should assume the primary role in negotiating an agreement on the matter.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, observer for the Holy See, said that the question of the use of outer space was relatively new. The first artificial satellite was launched into orbit around the Earth less than 60 years ago. Since then, the use of outer space had grown enormously. Today, communications, observation and monitoring satellites played a vital global role in human activity. Global positioning satellites were part of daily life, providing locations and giving direction. At the same, military interests had led to a troubling search for ways to destroy satellites or render them inoperable. The international community had already been aware of the dangers of the militarization of outer space, even before the launch of the first artificial satellite; the United Nations had made efforts to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes months prior to that launch. Explosions and collisions of orbital components had resulted in the presence of dangerous amounts of debris in the Earth’s atmosphere moving at great velocities, with the potential for deadly collisions with operational satellites, including manned platforms. Weapons and the testing of weapons in outer space should be prohibited, and he urged prompt action to initiate and conclude negotiations to that end.
REZA POURMAND-TEHRANI (Iran) said that as a co-founder of the United Nations Outer Space Committee, Iran had always supported the peaceful uses of outer space, as well as efforts to prevent an arms race there. It was necessary to avoid any restriction in promoting the peaceful uses of outer space to countries with emerging space capabilities. Iran was completely convinced that space should be utilized and explored universally, for all countries despite their economic developments. A code of conduct should fall within the framework of the United Nations Outer Space Committee, and should take into account the interests of all States, in order to reach a balanced outcome that reflected all concerns. Additionally, such an instrument should not be discriminatory in a way that infringed on the equal rights of exploration by developing countries and emerging space faring nations.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was not in a position to claim the right of the peaceful use of outer space. The launch of ballistic missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was in flagrant violation of a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions, which prohibited all activities related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ballistic missile programme.
Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said he had already made clear his country’s position vis-a-vis the peaceful use of outer space, which was a legitimate right to which all countries were entitled. As a proud space-faring nation, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would continue to launch satellites at the time and place of its decision. It would provide all possible transparency in accordance with international norms and practices.
Speaking on a second intervention, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that the Security Council resolutions had made it clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was not entitled to any launches using ballistic missile technologies. It was clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s claim to the peaceful uses of outer space was not justified.
Also speaking again, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the reckless rhetoric delivered by the Republic of Korea’s delegate was not worthy of note, and he totally rejected it.