Press Releases

    Background release

     UNIS/OS/256
    20 March 2003

    Outer Space Legal Subcommittee to Hold Forty-Second Session in Vienna, 24 March - 4 April 2003

    To Discuss a Possible Treaty on Property Interests in Spacecraft and Other Matters Relating to Space Law

    VIENNA, 20 March (UN Information Service) -- A possible treaty for property interests in space assets is a key item on the agenda of the forty-second session of the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) meeting here from 24 March to 4 April. Other topics of discussion include the definition and delimitation of outer space and the character and utilization of the geostationary orbit.

    A symposium, which will be held during the first day of the session, will examine ways of reinforcing the Convention on the Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space.

    The Subcommittee will continue to discuss the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space. The Subcommittee has established a working group on this item, which will review the implementation of these five treaties and obstacles to their universal acceptance. The working group may also review the implementation of the concept of the "launching State".

    As in previous sessions of the Subcommittee, international organizations are invited to report to the Subcommittee on their activities relating to space law. In 2000, a commission of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization published a report on the ethics of space policy. A group of experts has been working to identify which aspects of the report may need to be studied by COPOUS. The group of experts will submit its report to the Legal Subcommittee during the upcoming session.

    Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and a Preliminary Draft Protocol on Matters Specific to Space Assets

    A key item on the agenda will be the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and its preliminary draft protocol on matters specific to space assets. This treaty regime is designed to increase access to asset-based financing for space projects, which should enable creditors to reduce their risk by obtaining the asset as collateral and therefore to finance space projects more frequently and at a lower interest rate.

    The Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment establishes a general legal framework for registering interests in mobile high-value equipment that moves across national boundaries. The protocol on matters specific to space assets which is aimed at establishing an international system for registering property interests in space assets, is still at the preliminary draft stage and is being developed by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit), an organization not affiliated to the United Nations.

    The Subcommittee will focus on two issues under this agenda item: considerations relating to the possibility of the United Nations serving as Supervisory Authority under the preliminary draft protocol; and the relationship between the preliminary draft protocol and existing United Nations treaties on outer space.

    Symposium on Reinforcing the Registration Convention

    Reinforcing the Convention on the Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space will be the theme of this year's Symposium organized jointly by the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) and the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL). Under the 1975 Convention, Member States provide the United Nations with information on objects they have launched into outer space. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs maintains an on-line searchable register of objects launched into outer space, based on this information.

    The Symposium, which will be held during the first day of the Subcommittee session, will examine the Convention in light of developments in space activities over recent years, such as increased private-sector involvement in space activities.

    Exhibitions During the Subcommittee Session

    An exhibition provided by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) will be on display at the Vienna International Centre throughout the Legal Subcommittee session. The exhibition contains information on China's international, national and manned space flight programmes, and includes a model of China's spacecraft "Shen Zhou", planned to be used in a manned launch later in 2003.

    The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs maintains a permanent exhibition at the Vienna International Centre. The exhibition contains information on the work of the Office, and the exhibits include a 3-D computer model of the International Space Station and a moon rock provided by NASA, as well as models of spacecraft provided by several countries.

    Membership

    The Subcommittee like COPUOS, its parent Committee, has the following Member States: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

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    For more information visit the web site of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs at http://www.oosa.unvienna.org