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    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/GA/1715
        20 October 2000
     Fourth Committee Concludes Debate on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space,
    With Several Speakers Suggesting Expanded Outer Space Committee
     
     

     NEW YORK, 19 October (UN Headquarters) -- As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) concluded its debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space this afternoon, several speakers called for an  expansion in the membership of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.  The Committee, established by the General Assembly in 1959, currently has 61 members.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea said that expansion would enable all States that were willing and able to contribute to the Committee’s work to do so.  He was pleased that the request for the Committee to consider enlarging its membership had been included in the relevant draft resolution.  He urged that the issue be taken up without delay and that the text be approved by consensus.

    The representatives of Egypt and Libya encouraged an early decision on the matter of expansion, so that all who wished to participate in the Committee’s endeavours could do so.

    Ukraine’s representative said her country fully supported an increasingly important role for the Outer Space Committee in ensuring that outer space was maintained for peaceful uses and exploration, and that the achievements of space science and technology would be applied for the benefit of all peoples.

    Statements were also made by the representatives of Pakistan, Tunisia, Ecuador and Greece.

    Raimundo Gonzalez (Chile), Chairman of the working group of the whole on International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, introduced a draft resolution on the subject.

    Semakula Kiwanuka (Uganda), Chairman of the Fourth Committee, said that the draft entailed programme budget implications, which would be issued shortly in all official languages.

    The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Thursday, 26 October, to begin consideration of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

    Committee Work Programme

     The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to conclude its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

     It had before it a draft resolution (document A/C.4/55/L.8), by which the General Assembly would note with satisfaction the agreement reached by the Legal Subcommittee of the Committee on The Peaceful Uses of Outer Space on the question of the character and utilization of the geostationary orbit and the subsequent endorsement of that agreement by the Committee.

    Also by the text, the Assembly would endorse the Committee's recommendation that the Legal Subcommittee, at its fortieth session, taking into account the concerns of all countries, in particular the developing countries, consider as regular agenda items, among others:  the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space; matters relating to the definition and delimitation of outer space; and the character and utilization of the geostationary orbit, including consideration of ways and means to ensure the rational and equitable use of the geostationary orbit without prejudice to the role of the International Telecommunications Union.

    Also by the text, the Assembly would endorse the Outer Space Committee's recommendation that the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, at its thirty-eighth session, taking into account the concerns of all countries, in particular, the developing countries, consider among other items:  the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, following the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III); matters relating to remote-sensing of the Earth by satellites, including applications for developing countries and monitoring of the Earth's environment; use of nuclear power sources in outer space; implementation of an integrated, space-based global natural disaster management system; and examination of the physical nature and technical attributes of the geostationary orbit and its utilization and applications, including in-space communications.

    According to the text, the General Assembly would agree that the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee should assess the effectiveness of existing space debris mitigation practices and the extent to which they were being implemented.  In addition, efforts to model and characterize the debris environment should continue.  It would note with satisfaction that the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee at its thirty-seventh session continued to consider, on a priority basis, the agenda item on space debris.
     
    By further terms, the Assembly would note with satisfaction that the African Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education began their first education activities in April 2000; that the Centre for Space Science and Technology in Asia and the Pacific continued its education programme in 2000; and that progress had been achieved in furthering the goals of the Network of Space Science and Technology Education and Research Institutions of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and in establishing regional centres for space stations and technology education in the other regions.

     The Assembly would, by other terms, recognize the usefulness and significance of the Space Conference of the Americas for the Latin American countries, encourage the convening of a Fourth Space Conference of the Americas, and also encourage other regions to convene periodically regional conferences, with a view to achieving convergence of positions on issues of common concern in the peaceful uses of outer space.

     According to the text, the General Assembly would urge all governments, organs, organizations and programmes within the United Nations system, as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental entities conducting space-related activities, to take the necessary action for the effective implementation of the recommendation of UNISPACE III, in particular, its resolution entitled “The Space Millennium:  Vienna Declaration on Space and Human Development”.

     The Assembly would also take note of the interest of certain countries, including Saudi Arabia and Slovakia, that submitted requests to become members of the Outer Space Committee, as well as the requests of those countries that have been sharing seats on a rotating basis -- Cuba, Peru, Malaysia and the Republic of Korea -- to have that practice terminated and to become full members.

    Statements

     YEVHENIA FILIPENKO (Ukraine) said that Ukraine had more than 50 years experience in space research, as well as considerable industrial potential in space technology.  Its current programme aimed at further development in such technologies.  Ukraine also was participating in cooperative endeavours, such as the international “Sea Launch” project to put satellites into geosynchronous orbits, to which it contributed its trademark Zenith two-stage launch vehicle.  It also took an active part in the development of regional cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, supporting, for example, the SILKSAT regional satellite telecommuncations system. 

     Ukraine, she said, remained fully supportive of an increasingly important role for the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in ensuring that outer space was maintained for peaceful uses and exploration, and in further ensuring that the achievements of space science and technology would be applied for the benefit of all peoples.

     BURHAN UL ISLAM (Pakistan) said that outer space and the exploration of its hidden treasures for the benefit of mankind remained a major preoccupation.  Unfortunately, most of the developing countries lagged behind in their capabilities to engage in outer space activities.  The spin-off benefits of space technology in many fields should be the common heritage of all mankind without discrimination.  The international community’s efforts should be geared towards sharing the treasure trove of outer space.

     He said that in the years ahead, attention should be focused on matters relating to:  space debris; remote sensing of the Earth by satellites, including applications for developing countries; monitoring of the Earth’s environment; use of nuclear power in outer space; strengthening of inter-agency cooperation; increased use of space applications; and an integrated space-based natural disaster management system.

     Regarding the proposal to combine all international legal instruments governing outer space into a single convention, he said it would be very difficult in the absence of common ground for all the legal instruments.  They comprised specific provisions and clauses that had all been specially drafted by various bodies.  Others had no legal backing.  As such, it would not be advisable to merge them into a single instrument.

     He said his country was concerned that outer space, which had been declared the province of mankind, was today being transformed into an arena of military competition.  Some countries were making efforts to militarize outer space, which was a dangerous development.  Pakistan’s significant space technology capability could contribute to preventing an arms race in outer space and to the formulation of a convention to prevent such a race.

     WALID HAGGAG (Egypt) said the establishment of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was significant, because it was the first such body created for that purpose and because of the mechanisms it had subsequently developed for international cooperation.  His country participated actively in the Scientific and Legal Subcommittees and the first meetings under the Committee since UNISPACE III, and looked forward to the full implementation of the Vienna Declaration.  It welcomed the recommendations for mechanisms to face international global challenges mentioned in that Declaration.  He hoped that adequate resources would be provided for that purpose.  

    He reiterated the importance of paying special attention to the use of technologies, such as remote sensing, for the benefit of developing countries.  For that reason, he called for contributions to the trust fund as formulated during UNISPACE III.  At the same time, he looked forward to continued work in establishing indigenous capacity, which would allow developing nations to take advantage of space technologies in various fields.  In addition, he supported the development of appropriate strategies to minimize the harmful possibilities of space debris in relation to space travel and to prevent collisions, especially when nuclear energy was involved.  Any review of principles regulating nuclear energy in outer space must be governed by scientific consensus, he said. 

     Egypt had established a research council that aimed to develop a comprehensive national program for using specialized sensing satellites to studying desert areas, he said.  It had benefited from international cooperation in Egyptian space activity which, in turn, would benefit industries that depended on space technology.  His country intended to continue its space-related endeavours in conjunction with the relevant international structures, and looked forward to hosting upcoming conferences.  He supported expansion of the Committee to allow all those who wished to work on its concerns to do so, and encouraged an early decision on the matter.

     RADHIA ACHOURI (Tunisia) said that implementation of the recommendations made at the third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) was the best way to achieve a peaceful outer space.  Such implementation would demonstrate the importance of space science and technology applications to humankind.  She added that the applications of space science and technology should be extended to developing countries, in order to help them achieve balanced development.  While many steps had been taken in that direction, the gap between the developed and developing countries continued to grow.

     SANTIAGO APUNTE (Ecuador) said the mysteries of outer space were slowly being revealed, owing to mankind’s natural curiosity.  Space science and technology could help promote major socio-economic development.  Remote sensing had special meaning for Ecuador in recent years because the information obtained had helped the country avert the negative impact of the El Niño phenomenon.  Ecuador wished to set up a world research centre to study that weather phenomenon.

     He said follow-up to the commitments undertaken in Vienna in relation to environmental protection must be ensured, as well as the use of space applications in promoting human security.  If those commitments were implemented, all countries would benefit, especially the developing ones.  For more than 20 years, the United Nations had failed to reach consensus on the rights of developing countries to equitable and rational use of the geostationary orbit.  Ecuador had adopted a flexible policy in that regard.  Other countries should also be flexible, because it was only through international cooperation that consensus would be achieved.

    Mr. HAFIANA (Libya) supported the report and especially the portions of it that encouraged the use of space technology for the benefit of all countries in such areas as economic development and mitigation of natural disasters, since outer space was not the property of a single nation, but rather for all humankind.  Libya was involved in developing a centre for remote sensing and had participated in many activities related to space through international organizations.  He expressed his satisfaction at the result of UNISPACE III, in which Libya had integrally participated.  

     He appealed for the elimination of military space programs and said that the resulting savings should be put into development programme.  He also urged that no conditions be set for developing countries to have access to technologies developed through outer space activities, so that all States could benefit from them.  He called for full cooperation between the Disarmament Commission and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.  He supported all peaceful uses of outer space that benefited the world’s peoples, along with international standards to govern those uses.  Finally, he supported the expansion of membership in the Outer Space Committee, so that all who wished could participate in its endeavours.

     VASSILIS CASSAPOGLOU (Greece), on behalf of the Executive Board of the Network of Space Science and Technology Education and Research Institutions of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, expressed his condolences to the Russian Federation on the recent death of one of that country’s great astronauts.  Greece also wished to congratulate the delegations of the United States and other countries that had participated in the successful International Space Station mission.

    LEE BAEK-SOON (Republic of Korea) said his country particularly appreciated UNISPACE III, since the Conference had allowed a review past achievements in space technology, while providing a framework for future cooperation in the development of technologies that could benefit all of mankind.

    Since 1990, the Republic of Korea’s space programme had many accomplishments, he said.  Last year alone, the country had launched three satellites for various purposes, and its long-term plan envisaged the launching of 19 satellites by 2015.  He stressed the need to expand the Outer Space Committee’s membership, so that all States with the willingness and capability to contribute could do so.  That matter should be taken up without delay.  The Republic of Korea noted with satisfaction that it had been included in the draft resolution and urged that the text be approved by consensus.

    RAIMUNDO GONZALEZ (Chile), Chairman of the working group of the whole, introduced the draft resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (A/C.4/55/L.8).  He said that the draft covered the work of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its subsidiary bodies to be carried out next year.  The text was based on the resolution as introduced at the previous session, with changes that reflected various concerns, including those of the proposal made by Chile on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR).  He proposed that the draft resolution be adopted without a vote.

    SEMAKULA KIWANUKA (Uganda), Chairman, then informed delegates that the draft resolution entailed programme budget implications, and the Secretariat was making every effort to issue that document in all official languages as document A/C.4/55/L.9, to be circulated no later than Monday, 23 October.  It was, therefore, his intention, with the agreement of the Committee, to take action of the draft resolution on Thursday, 26 October.  

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