The General Assembly today adopted a resolution encouraging stronger international cooperation in peacefully using outer space to address long-term sustainable development concerns, taking into account the particular needs of developing countries.
By the terms of the text titled “Fiftieth anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space: space as a driver of sustainable development”, the Assembly emphasized the need to take further coordinated action to ensure that space science and technology and their applications serve the goals of sustainable development and the betterment of mankind.
The Assembly encouraged Member States to actively conduct bilateral, multilateral, regional and broader international space cooperation, including through capacity-building, information-sharing and the development of joint projects.
The Assembly invited the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to continue to develop — based on the results of the UNISPACE+50 process held in June — a “Space2030” agenda and implementation plan, and acknowledged the importance of global partnership among Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, industry and private sector entities in fulfilling the agenda.
The Assembly also encouraged Member States that have not done so to consider becoming members of the Committee and expressed its conviction that the Committee and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs should continue to coordinate efforts to strengthen implementation of United Nations treaties and principles on outer space. The Assembly urged the Secretary-General to consider the sufficiency of resources provided to the Office in its role as secretariat to the Committee and its subcommittees.
Mexico’s delegate, introducing the draft resolution prior to its adoption, called on the space community to work together to achieve objectives that will benefit all, including developing countries. She underscored the important role of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on climate change in ensuring the fair and equal use of outer space.
“The exploration of outer space must benefit all of humanity,” Paraguay’s delegate stressed, calling for adequate resourcing of the Office for Outer Space Affairs so it can help build the scientific and technological capacities of developing States.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates said young people can help develop new technologies and opportunities linked to outer space. Training programmes are vital, she stressed, calling on the international community to boost investment in such initiatives.
Canada’s representative shared how space activities have benefited communities in northern Canada, adding: “Space-based Earth observation data has proven to be instrumental in providing reliable information on the conditions of the Arctic.” She urged States to continue to share expertise and work together.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that Moscow places great importance on the development of scientific cooperation and joint work in outer space, emphasizing that the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space can serve as platform for the exchange of ideas on outer space-related activities.
The delegate from the United States recalled that his country’s space programme was born at the height of the cold war amid fears of a superpower “space race”. Fortunately, these fears abated, in no small part because of information collected and conveyed by satellites.
Iran’s delegate said the United States’ intentions to create a new military force for outer space is extremely alarming and could increase the possibility of an arms race in outer space. Existing regulations for orbital slots allocation, based on a “first come, first served” regime, have already restricted the capacity of many developing countries, he said. Orbital slots are occupied mostly by developed countries, depriving their developing counterparts of useful satellite services.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 29 October, to consider the Secretary-General’s reports on the International Criminal Court.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
ROSA MARÍA RAMÍREZ DE ARELLANO Y HARO (Mexico) introduced the draft resolution titled “Fiftieth anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space: space as a driver of sustainable development” (document A/73/L.6). Space tools are fundamentally important for delivering on the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, she emphasized. Calling on the space community to work together to achieve objectives that will benefit all, particularly developing countries, she underscored the important role of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Such tools have the potential to affect space activities and the use of outer space. A “Space2030” agenda is essential to delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals. The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is an important tool in that regard, she added.
ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) welcomed progress towards the realization of international cooperation in exploring and peacefully using outer space. “Paraguay agrees that the exploration of outer space must benefit all of humanity, promote development and reduce the risks of climate change,” he said, also rejecting the use of force in international relations. He underscored the importance of international responsibility for damages caused in outer space. For space to be an engine for sustainable development, States must pursue increased cooperation at all levels. “All countries should participate in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes,” he stressed, calling for adequate resourcing of the Office for Outer Space Affairs so it can help build the scientific and technological capacities of developing States.
Ms. AL ZAABI (United Arab Emirates) said UNISPACE+50 has allowed for the review of space activities and the future role of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. As host to preparatory forums for the UNISPACE+50, the United Arab Emirates has worked toward this end and will continue to contribute to building the outer space sector. This should enable the international community to achieve sustainable development. Outer space is a crucial sector in which the United Arab Emirates has invested greatly. Youth can help develop new technologies and opportunities linked to outer space, she said, underscoring various training programmes and initiatives that educate young people on outer space. “This allows them to create innovative ideas and finances them to carry out their ideas,” she added. A group of young engineers are currently working to implement a satellite project allowing for the exploration of outer space. She urged the international community to empower young people and invest in them to help them build prosperous societies.
OLGA MOZOLINA (Russian Federation) supported the adoption of the text before the General Assembly and noted that certain States opposed the inclusion of provisions for international regulations related to outer space. Furthermore, significant differences emerged regarding the understanding of “global governance of outer space activities”. She said efforts to implement the resolution must facilitate international cooperation in the use of outer space and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Achieving the Goals outlined in the United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space requires increased dialogue, she said, adding that the Russian Federation recently hosted a multi-stakeholder international conference on space law and policy. Moscow strives to use findings from outer space research to promote the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. “The Russian Federation places great importance on the development of scientific cooperation and joint work in outer space,” she said, adding that the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space “can be a platform for the exchange of ideas on outer space-related activities”.
KENNETH HODGKINS (United States) said that the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has acted as a catalyst, promoting international cooperation in space activities and fostering information exchange among developed and developing countries on the latest advances in space exploration. The United States space programme was born at the height of the cold war amid fears of a superpower “space race”. Over time, these fears abated, in no small part because of information collected and conveyed by satellites. Over the past six decades, the Committee’s growing roster of members have continued to serve as a United Nations leading forum for advancing the peaceful exploration and uses of outer space. UNISPACE+50, a follow up to the first United Nations global conference on space held in 1968, has recognized the growing importance of private sector involvement in space exploration and applications. He welcomed the breadth and scope of the topics considered, as well as the presentations by leading scientists, government officials and private sector representatives. Noting the progress made during the first meeting of the Working Group charged with developing the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space’s Space2030 agenda, he pledged continued participation in developing a document that lays the foundation for the Committee’s future work.
MOHAMMAD HOSSEIN GHANIEI (Iran) said that access to outer space through space science, technologies and their applications should be available to all States without discrimination. Developing countries, in their use of space science and technologies for socio-economic development, require the international community’s support. He stressed the need for non-discriminatory transfer of related science, know-how and technology. Equality, one of the main principles of international space law, should be applied strictly. For example, exploitation of the geostationary orbit should be rationalized and made available to all States on equal basis and without any discrimination. But the existing regulations for orbital slots allocation, based on a “first come, first served” regime, has restricted the capacity of many countries in geostationary orbit. As a result, many orbital slots are occupied only by the most developed countries. There is little chance for developing countries to enter outer space and to place their own geo satellite on appropriate orbital slots. This deprives developing countries of useful satellite services, he stressed. The announcement by the United States to create a new military force for outer space is an alarming development. The United States seeks dominance. Such policies and measures increase the possibility of an arms race or even conflict in outer space.
Ms. CHAN (Canada) said space brings an abundance of diversity of unique and fundamental benefits to Earth. Canada is fully committed and active in ensuring that space sciences and technology provide social and economic advantages to the global community. “Space is a dynamic driver for sustainable development,” she said, noting that Canada played a leading role in the UNISPACE+50 process. Through ongoing efforts to develop a Space2030 Agenda, Canada will continue to deliver on promoting the peaceful use and development of space, advance knowledge of space through science and ensure that space science provides benefits to all. She said achieving the Sustainable Development Goals calls for increased data and information derived from space assets. “Space-based Earth observation data has proven to be instrumental in providing reliable information on the conditions of the Arctic,” she said, adding that such activities have greatly helped communities in northern Canada. She said States “must continue to share expertise and work together regionally and globally” to ensure sustainable development.
The General Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/73/L.6 without a vote.
The representative of the United States, speaking after the text’s adoption, said the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space must remain a key multilateral’ forum for fostering conducive environments that strengthen the safety, stability and sustainability of outer space activities. However, the United States disassociates itself from consensus on references in the resolution to the 2030 Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The 2030 Agenda is non-binding and does not create or affect rights or obligations under international law. He reiterated Washington’s view on the Sendai agreement set forth in March 2015 and reminded delegations that his Government announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.