Press Releases

    UNIS/OS/303
    1 April 2005

    Background Release

    Outer Space Legal Subcommittee to Hold 44th Session in Vienna     

    VIENNA, 1 April (UN Information Service) --The practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects and the examination of a preliminary draft protocol on matters specific to space assets will be key items on the agenda of the 44th session of the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). The session will take place from 4 to 15 April 2005 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 matters relating to the character and use of the geostationary orbit. As in previous sessions of the Subcommittee, international organizations are invited to report on their activities relating to space law.

    A symposium, which will be held following the conclusion of the first day of the session, will examine questions relating to the remote sensing of Earth from outer space.

    Practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects

    A key 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 such as satellites, to make available information on the object launched to the United Nations. 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, the Subcommittee will establish a working group in order to examine reports submitted by Member States and international organizations on their practice in registering space objects.

    Registering property interests in space assets

    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, such as aeroplanes and trains.

    The protocol on matters specific to space assets, which is aimed at establishing an international system for registering property interests in space assets, such as satellites, is being developed by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit), an intergovernmental 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, similar to the process of obtaining a mortgage in order to build a house.

    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.

    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 promotion of space law, especially through the United Nations Programme on Space Applications.

    Information on the activities of international organizations relating to space law

    In the discussion of this item, Member States may bring any information on the activities of international organizations relating to space law to the attention of the Subcommittee. International organizations are also invited to report to the Subcommittee on their activities.

    Symposium on remote sensing

    The symposium will examine recent developments in remote sensing of Earth from outer space, and will discuss whether it would be desirable to review the 1986 United Nations Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space.

    The Symposium is jointly organized by the International Institute of Space Law of the International Astronautical Federation and the European Centre for Space Law and will be held in the afternoon of the first day of the Subcommittee session. The programme will include presentations by leading experts on the international legal framework of remote sensing in 2005, as well as the 1986 UN Principles and current state practice in North America, Asia and the Pacific and Europe.

    Membership

    The Legal Subcommittee, like COPUOS, its parent Committee, has the following 67 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, Libya, 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, Thailand, 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.unoosa.org//.