Press Releases

    UNIS/OS/278
    13 April 2004

    Round-up Release

    Outer Space Legal Subcommittee Concludes 43rd Session in Vienna

    Agreement Reached on a Draft Resolution on the Application of the Concept of the “Launching State”

    VIENNA, 13 April (UN Information Service) -- The practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects was a new agenda item discussed by the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) during its forty-third session, held in Vienna from 29 March to 8 April 2004.

    Other topics of discussion included 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 registering property interests in space assets. The Subcommittee also agreed on its contribution 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).

    The Subcommittee agreed on the text of a proposed draft General Assembly resolution on the concept of the “launching State”.

    A symposium, held during the first day of the session, examined the new developments and the legal framework covering the exploitation of the Moon’s resources. The Symposium was jointly organized by the International Institute of Space Law of the International Astronautical Federation and the European Centre for Space Law.

    Practice of States and International Organizations in Registering Space Objects

    The Subcommittee discussed the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects as a new agenda item of the session. The Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space requires States that launch objects into space (such as satellites) to make information on the object launched available to the United Nations. Based on this information, the Vienna-based United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) maintains a Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space.

    In accordance with the work plan for this item, covering the period from 2004 to 2007, Member States and international organizations reported on their practice in registering space objects and submitted the information to OOSA for inclusion in the Register. OOSA representative made a presentation on the Register.

    Draft Resolution on the Legal Concept of the “Launching State”

    The Subcommittee agreed on the text of a draft General Assembly resolution on the application of the concept of the “launching State”. This will be presented to COPUOS for its consideration at its forty-seventh session in June, before being presented to the General Assembly.

    Status and Application of the Five United Nations Treaties on Outer Space

    The Subcommittee continued to discuss the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space. The Working Group established by the Subcommittee on this topic reviewed the implementation of the five treaties and the obstacles to their universal acceptance. The Working Group approved the text of the model letter that the Secretary-General might wish to send to the ministers for foreign affairs of States that had not yet become parties to the United Nations treaties on outer space. The letter would be sent together with the information material summarizing the important benefits and responsibilities of participation in those treaties.

    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 was 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 legal framework for registering interests in mobile high-value equipment that moves across national boundaries.

    The preliminary draft protocol on matters specific to space assets is aimed at establishing an international system for registering property interests in space assets. It 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 focused 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 reconvened its Working Group to consider the questions reflected in these two issues separately.

    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.