Press Releases

    UNIS/OS/286
    15 June 2004‏

    Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space  Concludes 47th Session in Vienna

    Report on the Implementation of the Recommendations of UNISPACE III Adopted and Space and Water Discussed

    VIENNA, 15 June (UN Information Service) -- During its 47th session, which was held in Vienna from 2 to 11 June, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) adopted a report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III), for the General Assembly’s five-year review in October 2004 of the progress made in carrying out those recommendations.

    “This Committee has a unique and vital responsibility for highlighting the role that space science and technology can play in assisting the United Nations in achieving its economic and social development goals,” the President of the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly, Julian Robert Hunte, stressed to the Members of the Committee in his opening statement.

    The topics of discussion included space and society, ways and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes, spin-off benefits of space technology as well as the issues raised in the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee earlier this year. Those issues included, among other things, the use of nuclear power sources in outer space, space debris and space-system-based telemedicine. The Committee also examined a preliminary draft protocol for registering property interests in space assets.

    The Committee endorsed the activities of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications for the second half of 2004 and for 2005. It also reviewed the activities of the International Satellite System for Search and Rescue (Cospas-Sarsat). The United Nations Programme on Space Applications holds training courses on satellite-aided search and rescue.

    Implementation of the Recommendations of UNISPACE III

    In its report on the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III, the Committee proposed a set of actions to be undertaken, based on the recommendations submitted by action teams established by the Committee to implement high priority UNISPACE III recommendations.

    UNISPACE III was held in Vienna in 1999. It adopted “The Space Millennium: Vienna Declaration on Space and Human Development,“ which included a strategy to address global challenges in the twenty-first century through the use of space science and technology. The Vienna Declaration called for actions, among other things, to protect the Earth’s environment and manage its resources; use space applications for human development and welfare; advance scientific knowledge of space; enhance education and training opportunities and increase public awareness of the importance of space activities.

    Draft General Assembly Resolution on the Concept of the “Launching State”

    The legal concept of the “Launching State” is important because some of the existing United Nations treaties governing outer space activities include obligations and responsibilities of the State that launches an object into outer space. A review of the concept has become particularly relevant in light of increasing international cooperation in space activities, as well as the involvement of non-governmental entities in launches. The Legal Subcommittee, earlier this year, agreed on the text of a draft General Assembly resolution on the concept of the “Launching State”. The Committee approved the draft resolution and will forward it to the General Assembly for its consideration later this year.

    Implementation of an Integrated, Space-based Global Natural Disaster Management System

    Based on the report of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, COPUOS discussed the implementation of an integrated, space-based global natural disaster management system. Space technology has already proven to be useful for disaster management. For instance, remote sensing satellites can be used to map features of interest in regions where disasters are likely to occur, and following a disaster, they can provide up-to-date images of the affected area. Satellite communications help connect regions affected by disasters to the outside world, when ground infrastructure is damaged or destroyed.

    As part of the Committee’s consideration of this matter, an industry workshop on “Satellites for Disaster Communications: Saving Lives from Natural Disasters” was held on 7 June. The presentations were made by industry representatives. The workshop participants emphasized that it was important for Governments to have advanced disaster response preparedness in their countries and to create a better regulatory environment to facilitate the use of telecommunications, including via satellite, in response to disasters.

    Space and Water

    The Committee addressed a new topic of space and water. Space technology can help better manage water resources by providing data and information on the availability of water resources and water use. Satellites can also provide up-to-date and accurate information, for example, on levels of sea and river water and approaching storms and rainfall. Such information is important for preventing and mitigating the consequences of floods. The Committee agreed to continue its discussion of this topic next year.

    Space and Education

    Under the agenda item on space and society, the Committee focused its discussions on space and education. The Committee benefited from the presentations made by the regional centres for space science and technology education, established in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean, affiliated to the United Nations, on the activities of the centres. The Committee also welcomed the invitation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to develop a few small education pilot projects within UNESCO’s Space and Education Programme. The Committee agreed that the United Nations Programme on Space Applications should establish contact with UNESCO to launch these projects within the framework of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

    New Members

    The Committee agreed to recommend to the General Assembly, at its fifty-ninth session later this year, that Libya and Thailand should become members of the Committee.

    Membership

    COPUOS has the following 65 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 Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 to review the scope of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, to devise programmes in this field to be undertaken under United Nations auspices, to encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters and to study legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space. COPUOS and its two Subcommittees each meet annually to consider questions put before them by the General Assembly, reports submitted to them and issues raised by the Member States. The Committee and the Subcommittees, working on the basis of consensus, make recommendations to the General Assembly.

    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 and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at http://www.oosa.unvienna.org.