Press Releases

    GA/SPD/291
    14 October 2004

    Benefits from Space Exploration Must Be Shared among All Nations, Fourth Committee Is Told

    Developing Countries Said to Need Help to Take Full Advantage

    NEW YORK, 13 October (UN Headquarters) -- As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its consideration of the peaceful uses of outer space, speakers this morning stressed that exploration of space and application of space technologies should be for the benefit of all mankind, and that the military use of outer space would undermine international peace and security.

    The representative of the United States said he was encouraged by the substantial progress that had been made in considering the spin-off benefits of space exploration, on strengthening the role of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in ensuring that space was maintained for peaceful purposes, and on showing how space activities could enrich daily life.  In the course of 2004, multi-year work plans, action teams and reports by other groups had formed a flexible approach that had addressed a wide range of topics, including nuclear power sources in space and space-system-based telemedicine.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said military uses of outer space would undermine peaceful uses, and also the maintenance of international peace and security.  There was a need to develop an international convention on space law.  He said such a convention could result in the development of instruments on the delineation and definition of outer space, monitoring of space debris and protection of intellectual property.

    Many speakers from developing countries underlined the benefits space technologies could have on the prediction and mitigation of natural disasters and on the management of natural resources, especially of water.  They noted, however, that developing countries often did not have the capacity to benefit from those technologies and needed assistance.  Regional cooperation in that regard was stressed.

    The representative of Jamaica said that, following the devastating spate of hurricanes in her region, she had a particular interest in the implementation of an integrated, space-based natural disaster management system.

    The representative of Libya, a country recommended for membership of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, called for a system that would allow all countries to participate in the benefits of space-related technologies at reasonable costs -- especially countries that needed them the most.

    Cuba’s representative, saying that telemedicine, enhancement of space application in the field of agriculture and solar-Earth physics were some of the particularly promising areas of space activity for the good of all of humanity, warned that international cooperation in outer space could be neither privatized by developed States nor reduced to the entitlement of those nations.

    The representatives of Viet Nam, Ecuador, Thailand, Japan, Nigeria and Brazil (on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)) also spoke.

    The Committee will meet again tomorrow, Thursday 14 October, at 10 a.m. to begin its consideration of “Effects of atomic radiation”.

    Background

    The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this morning continued its consideration of the peaceful uses of outer space.  (For background information, see Press Release GA/SPD/289 of 11 October.)

    Statements

    KENNETH HODGKINS (United States) paid tribute to the work of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space over the past four decades.  In the course of 2004, multi-year work plans, action teams and reports by other groups had formed a flexible approach that had proven to be an effective means of implementing the UNISPACE III conference recommendations and addressing a wide range of topics, including nuclear power sources in space and space-system-based telemedicine.

    He expressed satisfaction that coordination in solar-terrestrial physics would be considered again at the 2005 conference, since the effect of solar activities and space weather phenomena on daily life and the environment were becoming more apparent.  Regarding space debris, he said that the fastest way to limit its growth was to implement the guidelines for orbital debris mitigation.

    Among legal issues, he was pleased that the relevant Subcommittee would continue to consider the Space Assets Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment formulated by the United Nations International Institute for the Unification of Private Law.  This would facilitate the provision of commercial financing for space activities.  Work by that Subcommittee on the registration of space objects was also important.  Overall, he was especially encouraged by the substantial progress that had been made in considering the spin-off benefits of space exploration, on strengthening the role of the outer space committee in ensuring that space was maintained for peaceful purposes, and showing how space activities could enrich daily life.

    RODNEY LOPEZ (Cuba) said that remote sensing and other space technologies had become indispensable in many areas of life.  The last meeting of the outer space committee in Vienna highlighted, in particular, the importance of facilitating the access of developing countries to satellite image information at a reasonable cost and the use of the Internet for the mitigation of natural disasters.  For those purposes and others, the space committee should be strengthened.

    Space was the common domain of humanity, he said, and should be used only for peaceful endeavours toward the betterment of all.  Attention should be paid to minimizing the consequences of space debris and the collision of space objects, especially those with nuclear power sources.  It was also crucial to prevent an arms race in outer space.  For that purpose, new legal mechanisms should be developed.  Telemedicine, near-Earth objects, enhancement of agriculture and solar-Earth physics were some of the particularly promising areas of space activity for the good of all of humanity.  The costs of small satellites for communications and monitoring should be reduced so that developing countries could better make use of their benefits.

    International cooperation in outer space could be neither privatized by developed States nor reduced to their entitlement.  If the maximum use of such technologies were to be made, the space committee and the United Nations had big challenges ahead.  To that end, he reiterated Cuba’s full willingness to cooperate in everything within its reach.

    STEPAN KUZMENKOV (Russian Federation) said he supported development of multilateral dialogue on the use and research of outer space, and also the activities of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.  In that Committee, he said, the most useful discussions were held and consensus achieved, and he noted the fact that the existing international legal instruments on the subject were developed in that body.

    He said military uses of outer space would undermine peaceful uses and the maintenance of international peace and security.  There was a need to develop an international convention on space law.  Such a convention could result in development of instruments on the delineation and definition of outer space, monitoring of space debris and protection of intellectual property.

    He said the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space had done important work to implement the decisions of the UNISPACE III conference and the Vienna Declaration.  He noted, however, that work on many priority areas was far from completed and should be continued.  He said he greatly appreciated the work done by the Committee on the issues of the use of nuclear energy in space and space debris.  The space debris mitigation guidelines and principles were very useful, but the task of preventing space pollution required solutions of a broad range of problems.  Regarding the use of nuclear energy in space, he said it would be helpful to use the experience of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its experts.

    He said remote sensing of the Earth should be strengthened in order to assist in the task of monitoring the environment and predicting and mitigating natural disasters.  International cooperation in that area might result in the creation of a global system to detect natural disasters using space technologies.

    NGUYEN VAN BAO (Viet Nam) said that, since outer space was the common heritage of mankind, it must be used solely for peaceful purposes.  Many achievements had been made in the exploration of outer space and space technologies, but a large number of developing countries had no access to advanced technologies and did not benefit from them.  He therefore stressed the need to assist developing countries in reducing the existing gap between poor and rich in matters of outer space.

    He said that using outer space for military purposes posed a grave threat to the peaceful use of outer space.  Such activities also had a negative impact on the process of international arms control and disarmament.  It was necessary to negotiate a legally binding international instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space and to prohibit the deployment of weapons in outer space.  He supported the recommendation that Libya and Thailand should become members of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

    IBRAHIM DABBASHI (Libya) praised the work of Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its subcommittees during their 47th session.  He said that great benefits were possible for all countries through space technologies.  In Libya, in particular, such technologies could help develop vast underused resources.  The Libyan centre for space monitoring addressed desertification, mapping and other areas in coordination with other countries, and the country was working to join in international space-related efforts.

    A system should be developed, he said, that would allow all countries to participate in the benefits of space-related technologies at reasonable costs -- especially countries that needed them the most.  In addition, a legally-binding international instrument was needed to regulate outer space and to prevent the militarization of outer space, which would have grave consequences for humanity.

    Libya, he said, had always participated in the activities of the space committee as an observer.  It was pleased at the recommendation that it should be a member and pledged its commitment to the committee’s goals and activities.

    JANICE MILLER (Jamaica) said that space-related technologies offered vast potential benefits for States, especially those countries, which did not have current ambitions to embark on their own space programmes.   The outer space committee was an important multilateral forum in that regard.  She praised the work of the Committee during its 47th session, in exploring ways to utilize the benefits of space science and technology.

    She noted the important work of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, in particular the United Nations Programme on Space Applications.  The priority areas identified by that programme illustrated the practical and diverse ways in which space science and technology could be of significant assistance to mankind, and could address some of the key economic and social concerns of developing countries.  Given the great potential of the Programme, she expressed hope that the donor community would respond positively to its call for additional contributions.

    Following the devastating spate of hurricanes in its region, she said Jamaica had a particular interest in the work of the space committee on the implementation of an integrated, space-based natural disaster management system.  She welcomed any additional information on how such technologies could be made available to, and used effectively by, countries in the Caribbean region.  As a non-member of the space committee, she also expressed interest in activities, such as conferences, training courses and workshops, which could involve Jamaica in such areas as natural resource management, environmental monitoring, tele-health and tele-education through space technologies.

    LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador) said his country was an active member of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.  The results of outer space research should be for the better quality of life for the people on the planet, especially those people from developing countries that were faced with poverty and natural disasters.  He called for new implementations of space technologies that would promote health and education and strengthen the process of decision-making in the sphere of natural resources, in particular water resources.

    He said space research and technology should lead to sustained growth and to mitigation and prediction of natural disasters and should be used for peaceful purposes only.  In that regard he highlighted the importance the Americas gave outer space in its correct peaceful and ethical utilization.  The Committee should consider measures to promote regional and international cooperation.  There was a desire among Latin American and Caribbean countries to make the Space Conference of the Americas into a recurrent event, within the framework of the recommendations of UNISPACE III, thereby contributing to combating poverty, environmental degradation and mitigating natural disasters.

    The priorities of the United Nations Programme of Applications of Space Technologies should also be for benefit of developing countries.  However, the Programme depended on voluntary contributions of the international community, and he urged that there be sufficient financial means.  The Committee had underlined the importance of capacity building for developing countries.  His country was willing to strengthen international cooperation on a basis of equality and mutual benefit and supported establishing an international coordinating body for space activities in the area of natural disaster management.

    KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) said that, as an aspiring member of the space committee, her country supported the call for active participation of Member States in its work, since space science and technologies helped improve the lives of people throughout the world.  Thailand had been active in the promotion of the peaceful uses of outer space at the bilateral, regional and international levels.

    Cooperation on space issues at the international level, she said, should be further steered towards assisting developing countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  She outlined some of the benefits of space activities in education, telemedicine, water use and disaster mitigation.

    Given those benefits, she said, the work of the space committee should be publicized more widely, along with the United Nations observation of Space Week.  Space activities, after all, had only become more important now that the success and sustainability of a country hinged largely on its ability to train scientists and engineers, and to apply sound, clean and cost-efficient technologies for security and economic prosperity.

    TAKEOMI YAMAMOTO (Japan) presented his country’s space-related activities over the past year.  He said that alongside such successes as the launching of an integrated space system last October, which verified the performance of commercial parts and technologies in severe space environments, Japan had suffered some disappointments.  For example, the operation of an advanced Earth observing satellite had had to be abandoned, and Mars explorer NOZOMI had failed in its orbiting path in December.  Japan was investigating the cause of the incidents and remained hopeful for future projects, however.

    Since its establishment at the end of last year, Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency had been playing a central role in the country’s space activities.  Japan intended to promote a strategy for space development through the development of satellites for Earth observation; advanced telecommunication and broadcasting; the transfer of some operations to the private sector; the development of space science; and the promotion of the use of international space station programme.  Japan was also promoting international cooperation in a variety of fields.  For instance, the second Earth Observation Summit held in Japan last April, adopted a framework for a ten-year implementation plan, which would provide for the construction of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.  The actual implementation plan was to be adopted in Belgium next February.

    He expressed his deep appreciation for the finalization of the report on the review of the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III during last June’s session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.  He said that, having served as Chair of the action team on the item related to capacity building through the development of human and budgetary resources, he also highly appreciated the efforts of all action teams in compiling their reports.  Countries should look beyond national borders to bring the benefits not only to the citizens of States engaged in space activities, but to all mankind.

    JOSEPH O. AKINYEDE (Nigeria) said that on 27 September 2003, his country had launched its first satellite.  It was a clear demonstration of how a developing country could acquire and use accessible, inexpensive and dynamic remote sensing in agriculture, management of the environment and other areas.  The satellite was partly a fulfilment of Nigeria’s contribution to a constellation of satellites, Disaster Monitoring Constellation.

    Following the launch of NigeriaSat-1, his country had taken immediate steps to implement its obligations under the legal regime governing space related activities.  The National Space Research and Development Agency had received approval to launch a communication satellite, intended to provide bandwidth to address the telephony, broadcasting and broadband needs of the country.  Building and launching of a second Earth observation satellite in 2007 had also been approved.

    He said projects had been initiated regarding monitoring of air pollution and solar radiation, study of Sahara aerosols and their effects on regional climate, food production and health, and a study of stability of LaserJets.  The African Regional centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Nigeria had begun the study of the energy exchange between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere in a tropical climate.  International cooperation was strategic to Nigeria’s rapid implementation of its space policy and programmes.  In that connection, his country had become a member of the International Astronomical Union.

    SIDNEY ROMEIRO (Brazil), on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), expressed satisfaction over the work of the Committee of the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space during its 47th session and said that advances in space technology underlined the urgent need for progress in related legal and ethical fields.  Outer space should be seen as the common heritage of humanity that must be used in peaceful ways for the benefit of all.  However, there was an important sector of humanity that had no idea of the new technologies and was not benefiting from them.

    He said the countries of MERCOSUR had actively supported the outer space committee and seen its work as important for the entire international community.  Among the important recommendations of UNISPACE III, he pointed to international agreements related to the application of science and technology in outer space, activities related to water management, universal access to communication space services, actions for sustainable development and new sources of financing for beneficial programmes.

    He said the activities of the scientific and technical subcommittee were a priority for developing countries, especially in the areas of capacity building and concrete utilization of space technologies.  Given the recent devastation of hurricanes, disaster management was a particular priority.  Others included resource management, remote education and telemedicine, research in basic space sciences, satellite positioning systems, and the use of small satellite technology.  Discussing legal matters, he highlighted the need for progress and consolidation of space law, and said there also needed to be progress toward mechanisms for regional cooperation in space activities.  In that regard, he outlined plans for regional conferences that would have as their goal the sharing of space technology by developed and developing countries alike.

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