Speakers called today for more dialogue and partnerships between spacefaring nations and emerging space nations to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) began its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
Rosa María Ramírez de Arellano y Haro (Mexico), Chair of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, recalled the June observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space — UNISPACE+50. Through a unique cross-sectoral approach to science, technology, policy, law and the shaping of a “Space 2030” agenda, UNISPACE+50 aims to strengthen the contribution of space in meeting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, she noted, pointing out that the 2030 Agenda is closely linked to the broader perspective of space security, and that development is reliant on the use of space tools.
Also highlighting the 2030 Agenda, the observer for the European Union delegation said that space science and technology have an increasing role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Space exploration is about science, but also education, economy and society, he said, adding that exploration must be open to partnerships between spacefaring actors and newcomers.
Thailand’s representative described his country as an emerging spacefaring nation that wishes to use the benefits of space technology fully towards sustainable development. Space-based technology is already enhancing Thailand’s disaster risk reduction activities, he reported, calling for knowledge-sharing and the non-discriminatory transfer of technology to address gaps between developed and developing States.
In similar vein, South Africa’s representative stressed that outer space must be accessible to all countries, not confined to those with space programmes. Noting that Africa’s demand for space-related products and services is among the world’s highest, he said that his delegation continues to actively engage the Outer Space Committee on the reform of global space governance structures considering the increasing number of new actors in the outer space realm, especially from developing countries.
In that context, Argentina’s representative said outer space must be pursued for the benefit of all States. The study of outer space should not transform into an instrument for spacefaring nations to wield over those States who pursue space development to benefit their people, he cautioned.
Others addressing the Committee were representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations), India, Switzerland, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Israel, Namibia, Egypt, Russian Federation and Nepal.
ROSA MARÍA RAMÍREZ DE ARELLANO Y HARO (Mexico), Chair of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, recalled the observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space — UNISPACE+50. The Outer Space Committee’s report provides a comprehensive summary of the event held in June, she said, noting that it included dedicated symposiums and seminars and culminated in the formal high-level segment of UNISPACE+50.
Noting that 2018 marks the fifty-fifth anniversary of cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova’s successful completion of her mission as the first woman in space, she called for encouraging “greater participation and representation of women in leadership roles, not only in space exploration, but throughout all sectors and areas of space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy”.
She said UNISPACE+50 aims to strengthen the contribution of space to meeting the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through a unique cross-sectoral approach to space science, technology, policy and law, and the shaping of a “Space 2030” agenda. The 2030 Agenda is closely connected to the broader perspective of space security, and development is reliant on the use of space tools, she pointed out. In that context, the inter-relationship and dialogue among major spacefaring nations and emerging space nations provide the fundamental prerequisites for success in meeting those demands, she said.
INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), called upon Member States to strengthen international cooperation in exploring peaceful uses of outer space activities, and to strengthen the role of the Outer Space Committee as the right platform for that cooperation. She also called for implementation of the United Nations Platform for Space‑based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response as well as the enhancement of regional centres for space science and technology, particularly for developing countries.
Noting South‑East Asia’s vulnerability to natural disasters, she emphasized the priority that ASEAN places on the utility of space‑based technologies in enhancing capacity for disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response and mitigation, reiterating the importance of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015‑2030. ASEAN will continue to forge regional cooperation in space technology, including by establishing the ASEAN Research Center for Space Technology and Applications, which will become a regional resource hub for capability and research development as well as academic study in the field.
Speaking in her national capacity, she said international cooperation in outer space should be inclusive, adding that the Outer Space Committee has a vital role in bridging the gap between spacefaring and non‑spacefaring nations. Emphasizing the importance of the definition and delimitation of outer space, she expressed hope that the Working Group on the Long‑term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities will be able to conclude the Guidelines for Long‑term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities. Equitable access to the geostationary satellite orbit should be guaranteed for all States, with particular consideration of the needs of developing countries, she stressed.
GUILLAUME DABOUIS, European Union delegation, said that space technologies help in tackling major challenges like climate change, disaster management, food security, transport development as well as protection of the environment and scarce resources. They also boost the competitiveness of industries well beyond the space sector, contributing to job creation and socioeconomic development in almost all economic areas around the world. Space technologies also accelerate research and technology development, he said, adding that space science and technology have an increasing role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
In bringing the benefits of space to citizens and unleashing its potential as a vector for growth, he continued, it is necessary to stimulate the integration of space into society, foster competitiveness and ensure access to and use of space in a safe and secure environment. Space exploration is about science, but also about education, economy and society. Describing the International Space Station as a great example of long-lasting international cooperation for peaceful purposes, he said exploration must be open to partnerships between spacefaring actors and newcomers, adding that, on the geopolitical level, exploring the solar system has the potential to enhance international and global diplomatic relations.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) emphasized that activities in outer space must be pursued for the benefit of all States and in accordance with international law, noting that information gathered from space has increased global knowledge and enhanced planning capabilities in relation to climate change and disaster risk reduction. The study of outer space should not be transformed into an instrument for spacefaring nations to wield over those States pursuing space development as a means to benefit their people, he said. Argentina recently launched into orbit a new satellite with unlimited observation characteristics that will help to mitigate man‑made as well as natural disasters, he said, adding that it will also provide multiple security and agricultural applications, the results of which Argentina will make available to its neighbours. He said that his country is actively engaged in both regional and international cooperation on the peaceful uses of outer space, recalling its partnerships with Italy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Union, China and others.
KITTITHEP DEVAHASTIN NA AYUTHAI (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN, said that his country’s Government is determined to ensure that outer space is utilized peacefully for the benefit of all, cautioning, however, that the growing challenge of space debris reinforces the need for “responsible, peaceful and safe” use of outer space. He said Thailand is drafting space-related legislation that will cover earth observation, space-based communications and space exploration. As an emerging spacefaring nation, Thailand desires to use the benefits of space technology fully in contributing to sustainable development, he said, adding that space-based technology is already enhancing his country’s disaster risk reduction activities. Calling for knowledge-sharing and non-discriminatory transfer of technology to address existing technology gaps between developed and developing States, he said the “Thailand Earth Observation System Phase 2” satellite is set to launch in 2020 and will assist in water and disaster management as well as national security programmes.
DEEPAK MISRA (India) described outer space programmes as high cost and risk intensive, pointing out that cooperation helps to make the cost and risk more manageable. India’s space programme has focused primarily on the application of space technology for development needs, more than space exploration, he said, adding: “It is truly a people’s programme.” India continues to collaborate with international partners in undertaking space programmes such as satellite launches, he said, adding that his country has also been helping neighbouring countries with a range of surveying efforts, including for horticultural crop inventory, forest mapping, drought monitoring and urban sprawl. India’s space programme remains focused on peaceful uses of outer space, he emphasized.
DOMINIQUE MICHEL FAVRE (Switzerland) described space as a source of fascination and wonder, adding: “Space also makes possible technological developments that make an indispensable contribution to sustainable development.” Switzerland is strongly committed to improving global health by using digital technologies, particularly satellite technologies, he said. That includes satellite monitoring of environmental factors conducive to the spread of epidemics and the use of satellite communications to assist in remote medical diagnoses. Noting that the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities finalized nine additional guidelines in 2018, he said that development crowns 10 years of intense negotiations within the group, and called for continued efforts to improve mutual understanding among space nations.
WOUTER HOFMEYR ZAAYMAN (South Africa) emphasized that outer space must be accessible to all countries, not confined to those with space programmes. Recalling the commemoration of UNISPACE+50, he also noted that the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities convened under his delegation’s stewardship. The Working Group was able to finalize and agree on a preamble and 21 guidelines, presenting a significant body of work and a demonstration of commitment by Member States. He went on to note that Africa has one of the highest demands for space-related products and services, including communications technology, economic and financial transactions, navigation and disaster management, among others. South Africa, therefore, continues actively to engage the Outer Space Committee on the reform of global space governance structures considering the increasing number of new actors in that realm, especially from developing countries, he said. South Africa has a vibrant developing space sector with its own dedicated agency and is part of a dynamic and growing space community in Africa, he added.
KIM SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said “the infinite outer space is no longer a monopoly of a few developed countries, and the door to cutting-edge outer space science is wide open to all United Nations Member States”. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea maintains its independent and self-reliant character in developing and using outer space and ensures that space development is oriented towards the peaceful purpose of developing the national economy and improving the people’s living standards, he said. It is noteworthy that more than 280 valuable dissertations were presented on the achievements and experiences of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with its manufacturing applications and control over an artificial satellite at the 2017 Outer Space Science and Technology Seminar held in Pyongyang, he said. In 2018, he continued, the country’s experts were invited to international conferences organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), but due to opposition by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718, Pyongyang was not able to attend any of those meetings, he said, adding that his delegation strongly protests the outrageous and immoral behaviour of the 1718 Committee, which stubbornly denies its peaceful satellite launches. It is also regrettable that, while admitting the improper nature of such behaviour, the Office for Outer Space Affairs failed to take any measures.
LIAO GANGQIANG (China) said the Space 2030 Agenda should reflect, in a comprehensive and balanced manner, the concerns and aspirations of countries with different space capacities. Since the exploration, development and use of space resources is a new type of activity, relevant international rules and regimes should be gradually improved on the basis of the legal framework defined by the Outer Space Treaty, he said. Moreover, the Outer Space Committee should constitute the primary platform for discussing such issues in order to ensure the universality and consistency of the rules. On 21 May, he recalled, China successfully launched the Queqiao relay satellite, the world’s first communications satellite running at the Lagrange point. He also reported plans to complete the construction of China’s space station with the aim of putting it into service in 2022. In addition, China has contributed satellite remote sensing data for domestic emergencies as well as international natural disasters such as floods in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, he said. The Government of China is committed to using its space technologies to help countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative to build a spatial information corridor facilitating information exchange and connectivity between regions and territories along the route, he added.
OREN BAR-EL (Israel) said his country has become a world leader in the fields of technology as well as science and medicine and has now identified innovation in space as a priority. Young Israelis are eager to become involved in space innovation, he said, adding that the SpaceIL organization is preparing to land an Israeli satellite on the moon. Outer space exploration is a platform for global cooperation and Israel is ready and willing to contribute in such efforts, he said. With its lack of borders, outer space can serve as a venue for bilateral and multilateral relations, he added, noting that Israel seeks to enhance cooperation by working with the Office for Outer Space Affairs. He went on to state that his country is financing a platform to support women and girls wishing to become involved in space-related issues and has partnered on a number of initiatives with the European Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency and NASA. “The critical discoveries that await in space will only strengthen the sustainability of our planet,” he said.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia) said the United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space increased international cooperation and capacity to the benefit of developing countries. At the same time, the Space 2030 Agenda is a driver of sustainable development, helping to bridge the gap between countries with developed space-related capabilities and technologies and those with limited capacity, he said. Emphasizing the importance of research, science and technology as engines of economic growth and development, he highlighted Namibia’s strategic plan for developing its aerospace, geo-information, earth observation and spatial science capabilities. Namibia also supports the African Space Policy and Strategy adopted in January 2016 within the framework of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, he added.
MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt), describing space as a common heritage of humanity, said it should be used exclusively for civil activity in the interest of all countries and peoples. In light of the technological developments of the past decades, the Treaty on Outer Space is no longer sufficient, he said, calling for legally binding instruments that will prevent an arms race and bridge the existing legal gap. The international community must consolidate its efforts, including by enhancing transparency and taking confidence-building measures, he said. Egypt launched a national space agency that will contribute to sustainable development, build international partnership and enhance technical cooperation with other space programs, he said, adding that the agency also provides training for experts in the field and cooperates with different academic institutions. In closing, he reiterated that any attempt to regulate outer space must aim to promote the common interests of all nations and peoples.
OLGA V. MOZOLINA (Russian Federation) emphasized the need to consider security across all aspects of outer space. The Russian Federation set forth a set of pragmatic proposals in that context, contributing to negotiations within the framework of the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities. However, the Working Group did not achieve the best outcome on that subject, she said, noting also that some partners did not adopt her delegation’s proposal to extend the Working Group’s mandate for a year so that a full compendium of guidelines could be released. The unprecedented nature of the situation is characterized by a lack of understanding on the status of the 21 guidelines and the preamble, she said, arguing, therefore, that the guidelines cannot be taken as having been adopted by the Committee. She called for options in addressing the deadlock within the Working Group and launching the next cycle. Noting that the guidelines and preamble constitute a document that cannot yet be qualified as a full compendium, she said they must be accepted before submission to the General Assembly in 2019. Moreover, aspects linked to operational legitimacy and security have not yet been addressed and could have an impact on outer space objects. Also, discussions on managing movement in outer space are becoming politicized, she cautioned, underlining that data on such movement should be sufficiently accurate and complete to ensure the safe exploitation of large groups of outer space objects and address space debris and other issues.
DILIP KUMAR PAUDEL (Nepal) called outer space the common heritage of humankind, saying its exploration and use should be carried out for the wider benefit of all humanity. All countries, irrespective of their size and level of economic or scientific development, should have equal opportunities to access space technology, he said, noting that access for least developed and landlocked developing countries — which have yet to benefit proportionately from its remarkable achievements — should be given due consideration. The application of space science will serve as an indispensable tool for nations to improve people’s lives, conserve natural resources and enhance disaster preparedness and mitigation, he said, adding that United Nations programmes and initiatives, such as the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), have served as a bridge to connect the disaster management, risk management and space technology communities. UNISPACE+50 helped to show the significant role that outer space can play in achieving the 2030 Agenda, he said, urging the international community to work closely with all stakeholders to use outer space in a truly peaceful manner and for all humanity, conforming fully with relevant international law.