Press Releases

    UNIS/OS/275
    25 March 2004


    Background release

    Outer Space Legal Subcommittee to Hold 43rd Session in Vienna

    Practices of Registering Objects Launched into Outer Space Key Item on Agenda

    VIENNA, 25 March (UN Information Service) -- The practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects will be a key item on the agenda of the 43rd session of the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) meeting. The session will take place from 29 March to 8 April 2004 in Vienna.

    Other topics of discussion include the definition and delimitation of outer space, the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space, and a preliminary draft protocol on matters specific to space assets. The Subcommittee will discuss its contributions to COPUOS for the preparation of its report to the General Assembly. The report will review the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III). As in previous sessions of the Subcommittee, international organizations are invited to report their activities relating to space law to the Subcommittee.

    A symposium, which will be held during the first day of the session, will examine the new developments and the legal framework covering the exploitation of the Moon’s resources.              

    Practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects

    A key new item on the agenda will be the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects. The Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space requires States launching objects into space to make available information on the object launched to the UN. Based on this information, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) maintains the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space, for which it also provides an online searchable index.

    In accordance with the work plan for this item, covering the period from 2004 to 2007, Member States and international organizations will report on their practice in registering space objects and submitting the required information to OOSA for inclusion in the Register. The Vienna-based UN outer-space body will make a presentation of the Register.

    Status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space

    The Subcommittee will continue to discuss this agenda item. The Working Group established by the Subcommittee on this topic will review the implementation of the five treaties and obstacles to their universal acceptance, as well as the implementation of the legal concept of the “launching State”. The Subcommittee will also consider the revised, proposed text for a draft resolution of the General Assembly on the application of the concept of the “launching State”.

    Preliminary draft protocol on matters specific to space assets to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment

    Another item on the agenda of the Subcommittee is the examination of the preliminary draft protocol on matters specific to space assets to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment. 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, which is aimed at establishing an international system for registering property interests in space assets, is being developed by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit), an organization not affiliated to the United Nations. The possibility of registering property interest in space assets would have the effect of facilitating asset-based financing for space projects, as it would enable creditors to reduce their risk by obtaining the asset as collateral for their loan.

    The Subcommittee will focus on two issues under this agenda item: issues relating to the possibility of the United Nations serving as the supervisory authority under the preliminary draft protocol, and the relationship between the terms of the preliminary draft protocol and the rights and obligations of States under the legal regimes applicable to outer space. The Subcommittee will reconvene its Working Group to consider the questions reflected in these two issues separately.

    Symposium on the legal framework covering the exploration of the resources of the Moon

    New developments and the legal framework covering the exploitation of the resources of the Moon will be the theme of this year’s Symposium jointly organized by the International Institute of Space Law of the International Astronautical Federation and the European Centre for Space Law.

    The Symposium will be held in the afternoon of the first day of the Subcommittee session. The programme will include presentations by leading experts on the future of the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, the “Moon Agreement”, and Article II of the Outer Space Treaty, as well as the status of the Moon and emerging issues.        

    Exhibitions

    An exhibition jointly organized by the Algerian Space Agency and OOSA will be on display in the rotunda of the Vienna International Centre during the Legal Subcommittee session. The exhibition includes a model of “AlSat-1”, Algeria’s first small satellite. AlSat-1 is part of the international Disaster Monitoring Constellation, which consists of four satellites from four countries. The exhibition can be viewed as part of a guided tour of the Vienna International Centre.

    Membership

    The Legal 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, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

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    The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at http://www.oosa.unvienna.org.