Press Releases

     

    GA/SPD/270
    24 October 2003

    FOURTH COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXTS ENDORSING WORK OF
    OUTER SPACE COMMITTEE, URGING FULL SUPPORT FOR
    IMPLEMENTATION OF 1999 VIENNA SPACE CONFERENCE

    NEW YORK, 23 October (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly would endorse the report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and urge States, that have not yet done so, to become parties to the five treaties governing the uses of outer space, by the terms of an orally revised draft resolution approved by the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this afternoon.

    According to the text, one of two approved without a vote, the Assembly would urge all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to actively contribute to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space, as an essential condition for the promotion of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

    By other terms, the Assembly would urge the entities of the United Nations system to examine, in cooperation with the Committee, how space science and technology could contribute to implementing the United Nations Millennium Declaration, particularly in those areas relating to, among other things, food security and increasing opportunities for education.

    The Assembly would also urge all governments, United Nations and intergovernmental and non-governmental entities conducting space-related activities, to take the necessary action for the effective implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III, in particular its resolution entitled “The Space Millennium:  Vienna Declaration on Space and Human Development”, bearing in mind the need to promote the use of space technology towards implementation of the Millennium Declaration.

    The Assembly would note with satisfaction the work conducted by the Committee’s 12 action teams to implement the recommendations of UNISPACE III, and urge Member States to provide full support to the teams in conducting their work.  It would also note, with satisfaction, that the Committee made further progress in preparing its report on the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III for submission to the Assembly at its fifty-ninth session.

    The Assembly would also endorse the recommendations of the Scientific and Technical, and Legal Subcommittees concerning their work programmes, which address such issues as the definition and delimitation of outer space, geostationary orbit, space debris and the uses of nuclear power in outer space.

    By further terms, the Assembly would endorse the Committee’s agreement on the extension of the term of office of its current bureau and future composition, Fourth Committee and agree that the Committee and its subcommittees, at the beginning of their 2004 sessions, should conduct the election of officers agreed upon by the Committee at its forty-sixth session.

    The Assembly would also welcome the continued interest of Libya to become a member of the Committee and to that end, request that constructive consultations be conducted, as soon as possible, both within the Committee and among regional groups with a view to reaching a positive and final decision on Libya’s membership at the end of the General Assembly’s fifty-ninth session.

    By the terms of the second draft resolution, also orally amended, the Assembly would decide to review the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III in a plenary meeting -- or meetings -- at its fifty-ninth session under a separate agenda item.  It would also request the Committee to submit its report on the review to the plenary meeting at its fifty-ninth session, in October 2004.

    As the Committee concluded its general debate on the item, speakers stressed the need to harness space science and technology for the benefit of all humanity and cautioned against the militarization of outer space.  The representative of Chile, speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), noted that despite the significant advances in the field of space technologies, many nations and people still did not understand or benefit from them.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea called attention to attempts to turn outer space into a military base.  The missile defence system constituted a grave challenge to peaceful exploration and uses of outer space that would inevitably bring about military confrontation and an arms race in outer space.  Pakistan’s representative said the militarization of outer space needed to be avoided at all costs and, if possible, reversed.  Contrary to other opinions, addressing that issue fell well within the mandate of the Outer Space Committee, he added.

    The representative of Syria, Japan, Malaysia, Egypt and Ecuador also spoke.

    A discussion was also held on the proposal to invite the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian territories to address the Committee.  No decision was reached and the discussion will be continued either informally, or at the next open meeting.

    The Committee will meet again Monday, 27 October at 3 p.m. to begin its consideration of questions relating to information.

     

    Background

    As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon, it was expected to conclude its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.  [For background information, see press release GA/SPD/268 of 20 October 2003].

    The Committee had before it a draft resolution submitted by Chile on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (document A/C.4/58/L.7).  By the terms of the text, the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of international cooperation in developing the rule of law, including the relevant norms of space law and their important role in international cooperation for the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. 

    The Assembly would also, by further terms, endorse the report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and urge States that have not yet become parties to the international treaties governing the uses of outer space, to consider ratifying or acceding to those treaties, as well as incorporating them in their national legislation.

    According to the text, the Assembly would endorse the Committee’s recommendation that the Legal Subcommittee, at its forty-third session, consider, among other things, the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space; the definition and delimitation of outer space; and the character and utilization of the geostationary orbit, including ways to ensure its equitable use without prejudice to the role of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

    By further terms, the Assembly would endorse the Committee’s agreement on the extension of the term of office of its current bureau and future composition, and note that the Committee conducted the election of officers at its forty-sixth session.  It would agree that the Committee and its subcommittees, at the beginning of their 2004 sessions, should conduct the election of officers agreed upon by the Committee at its forty-sixth session. 

    The Assembly would also agree that, at its forty-seventh session in 2004, the Committee should reach agreement on all the officers of the bureau of the Committee and its subsidiary bodies for the next term and, for that purpose, include in the agenda for the forty-seventh session an item on the composition of the bureaux for the period 2006-2007.  It would urge each of the five regional groups to ensure that agreement within the group on the officer to be determined for the period 2006-2007 is reached before the Committee’s forty-seventh session.

    By other terms, the Assembly would endorse the Committee’s recommendation that the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, at its forty-seventh session, consider, among other things, the United Nations Programme on Space Applications; implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III); matters relating to remote-sensing of Earth by satellite; space debris; use of nuclear power sources in outer space; and space-system-based telemedicine.

    Further by the text, the Assembly would endorse the Committee’s recommendation that the symposium to strengthen partnership with industry should be organized during the first week of the forty-first session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and should address small satellite applications in agriculture, health and human security.  It would also endorse the United Nations Programme on Space Applications for 2004, as proposed to the Committee by the Expert on Space Applications.

                                                                                                                                                 

    The Assembly would also, by further terms, urge all Governments, entities of the United Nations system and intergovernmental and non-governmental entities conducting space-related activities to take the necessary action for the effective implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III, in particular its resolution entitled “The Space Millennium:  Vienna Declaration on Space and Human Development”, particularly within the context of the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

    By further terms, the Assembly would note with satisfaction the work conducted by 12 action teams established by the Committee at its forty-fourth and forty-sixth sessions to implement the recommendations of UNISPACE III, and urge Member States to provide full support to the teams in conducting their work.  It would also note with satisfaction that the Committee made further progress in the preparation of its report under the agenda item on the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III for submission to the Assembly at its fifty-ninth session.  

    Also according to the draft, the Assembly would urge all Member States to contribute to the Trust Fund for the United Nations Programme on Space Applications to support activities to implement the recommendations of UNISPACE III and recommend that more political support be provided to all matters relating to the protection of the outer space environment.  It would also consider it essential that Member States pay more attention to the problem of collisions of space objects and space debris, agreeing that international cooperation is needed to minimize the impact of space debris on future space missions.

    By further terms, the Assembly would urge all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space, as an essential condition for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.  It would emphasize the need to increase the benefits of space technology and its applications and to contribute to an orderly growth of space activities favourable to sustained economic growth and sustainable development in all countries, in particular the developing countries.

    The Assembly would also agree that the benefits of space technology and its applications should be prominently brought to the attention of United Nations conferences to address global issues relating to socio-economic and cultural development, and that the use of space technology should be promoted towards achieving the objectives of those conferences and implementing the United Nations Millennium Declaration.  The Assembly would urge entities of the United Nations system to examine how space science and technology could contribute to attaining the goals of the Millennium Declaration. 

    By other terms, the Assembly would request the Committee to consider, as a matter of priority, ways and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes and to report to the Assembly at its fifty-ninth session.  It would request the Committee to continue to consider, at its forty-seventh session, its agenda item entitled “Space and society” and agree that that a special theme for the period 2004-2006 should be “Space and education”.  It would also agree that a new item, entitled “Space and water” should be included in the Committee’s agenda for its next session. 

    Also by the text, the Assembly would welcome Libya’s interest in membership in the Committee, note the need to consider the geographical distribution of the Committee’s membership and agree that consultations would be necessary among regional groups before a decision could be taken.  It would endorse the Committee’s decision to grant permanent observer status to the Regional Centre for Remote Sensing of North African States and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

    The Committee would also be requested to identify new mechanisms of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space to strengthen multilateralism and to report to the Assembly at its fifty-ninth session.

    Also before the Committee was a draft resolution submitted by Chile on the review of the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III (document A/C.4/58/L.8). 

    By its terms, the Assembly would decide to conduct the review of the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III in a plenary meeting -- or meetings -- at its fifty-ninth session under a separate agenda item.  It would also request the Committee to submit its report on the review of the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III to the plenary meeting at its fifty-ninth session and decide that the meeting be held in October 2004.  Member States would be invited to participate in the meeting at the ministerial level.

          

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