Round-up of session
7 April 2003
Outer Space Legal Subcommittee Concludes Forty-Second Session in Vienna
Examines Preliminary Draft Protocol on Matters Specific to Space Assets, Establishes a Workplan Aimed at Harmonizing Practices of Registering Objects Launched into Space, and Considers a Report on Ethics in Outer Space
VIENNA, 7 April (UN Information Service) -- A possible treaty for proprietary interests in space assets was amongst the main issues discussed by the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) during its forty-second session here (24 March to 4 April).
Another topic of discussion was harmonizing the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects. A symposium, held during the first day of the session, examined ways of reinforcing the Convention on the Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space.
The Subcommittee agreed that it would contribute to a report of COPUOS on progress made in implementing the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III). The Subcommittee's contribution will review developments in space law over the past five years.
The Subcommittee considered a proposed draft General Assembly resolution on the concept of the "launching state", which will be considered further by the COPUOS session in June.
A report of a group of experts on the ethics of outer space was considered by the Subcommittee. The report identified which aspects of an earlier report by the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) might need to be studied by COPUOS. The report observes that it is vital to take an ethical approach to activities performed in areas outside the jurisdiction of a single State and recalls that many ethical principles have already been transformed into basics of space law, which is codified in various international treaties on space activities. The Subcommittee will continue to consider the report at its next session.
Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and a Preliminary Draft Protocol on Matters Specific to Space Assets
The Subcommittee discussed the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and its preliminary draft protocol on matters specific to space assets as a key item of the session. 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 protocol aims at promoting the financing of space activities.
The Convention 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 is aimed at establishing an international system for registering property interests in space assets. The protocol 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 discussed several aspects of the draft protocol, in particular the possibility of the United Nations serving as supervisory authority under the protocol. Another aspect discussed was the relationship between the protocol and existing United Nations treaties on outer space.
New Agenda Item on the Practice of States and International Organizations in Registering Space Objects
The Subcommittee agreed to consider a new agenda item on the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects under a four-year work plan. A working group will be established in order to examine ways of harmonizing the practices by which different States and international organizations provide information to the United Nations under the Convention on the Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space. The working group will consider the effects that recent developments, such as increased private sector involvement and increased international cooperation in space activities, have on registration practices.
A Symposium, held during the first day of the Subcommittee session, examined ways of reinforcing the Convention on the Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space. 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 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