Press Releases

    Background release

    UNIS/OS/307
    3 June 2005

    United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to Hold 48th Session in Vienna

    Space and Water to Be Discussed; Symposium on Space and Archaeology to Be Held

    VIENNA, 3 June (UN Information Service) – The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) will hold its forty-eighth session from 8 to 17 June in Vienna, Austria.

    Topics such as space and water, space and society, and the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III), will be on the agenda. The Committee will also discuss issues raised in the reports of its two Subcommittees – the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee – on their sessions earlier this year. The issues discussed by the Subcommittees include space-system-based telemedicine, near-Earth objects, space-system-based disaster management support, examination of the preliminary draft protocol on matters specific to space assets and the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects.

    During its consideration of ways and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes, the Committee may discuss ways of promoting regional and interregional cooperation, based on experiences stemming from the Space Conference of the Americas, and the role space technology could play in the implementation of recommendations of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

    Space and water

    The Committee will continue to consider its agenda item on space and water. Entities of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental entities dealing with the use and management of water resources, as well as space agencies, will contribute to the work of the Committee by sharing their experience in the use of space-related technology for water resources management.

    Symposium on “Space and Archaeology”

    A symposium on “Space and Archaeology” will be held on the afternoon of Monday, 13 June. The symposium is being co-organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Institute for Global Mapping and Research of Austria. The symposium will cover topics such as the current and future uses of space technology in archaeology and archaeology’s contribution to human development, UNESCO’s Open Initiative on the use of space technologies to support the World Heritage Convention, space applications in archaeological exploration and documentation in Syria, understanding cultural and natural heritage information using space technology in China, and remote sensing and virtual reconstruction of archaeological landscapes.

    Implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III

    The Committee will continue to consider the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III. In October 2004, the General Assembly reviewed the progress made in the implementation of those recommendations and endorsed a set of future actions proposed by the Committee in its report to the Assembly. At its forty-eighth session, the Committee will consider the implementation of some of the proposed actions.

    The Committee will, among other things, review the progress made in the work of the ad hoc expert group that is conducting a study on the possibility of creating an international entity to provide for coordination and the means of realistically optimizing the effectiveness of space-based services for use in disaster management.

    United Nations Programme on Space Applications

    Based on the report of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, COPUOS will review the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, including the activities of the International Satellite System for Search and Rescue (Cospas-Sarsat). The system is designed to provide distress alert and location data to assist search and rescue operations, and has been successfully in use since 1982, saving more than 18,500 lives in over 5,000 situations worldwide. Among other activities, the United Nations Programme on Space Applications holds workshops and training courses to promote awareness of Cospas-Sarsat and to support countries in coordinating its use.

    Practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects

    Based on the report of the Legal Subcommittee, COPUOS will discuss the issue of the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects. The Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space requires States launching space objects, such as satellites, to make available to the United Nations information on those objects. Based on this information, OOSA maintains the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space, for which it also provides an online searchable index.

    Space and society

    The Committee will continue to consider “Space and society” under the special theme “Space and education”, in accordance with the multi-year work plan on this agenda item for the period 2004-2006. Among other things, the Committee will hear presentations by Member States and intergovernmental and non-governmental entities on the latest developments in space applications to enhance educational opportunities, particularly for women and girls. The Committee will also examine the availability and affordability of space-based services and systems for providing educational opportunities in developing countries.

    Exhibition

    The session of the Committee will coincide with the opening of a special exhibition at the Vienna International Centre on the Indian space programme. The exhibition, jointly organized by OOSA and the Indian Space Research Organisation, will display models of satellites and launch vehicles built by India. The exhibition can be viewed as part of a guided tour of the Vienna International Centre.

    Membership

    COPUOS 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.