Press Releases

    UNIS/OS/353
    18 June 2007

    Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Concludes 50th Session in Vienna

    Approves Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines, Workplan for Space-based Information for
    Disaster Management and Proposes Draft Resolution on Registering Space Objects 
          

    VIENNA, 18 June (UN Information Service) -- During its 50th anniversary session, held from 6 to 15 June in Vienna, Austria, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) approved new space debris mitigation guidelines, agreed on a draft resolution on the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects to be submitted to the General Assembly, and approved a workplan for the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER).

    In his opening address to the Committee, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, Antonio Maria Costa,  recalled the instrumental role the Committee played in constructing the legal regime governing space activities for peaceful purposes and stressed the importance of a continued collective approach to advancing international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, which should include all relevant stakeholders, both public and private. Celebrating 50 years of space achievements, a number of special events accompanied the Committee's session, including a High-level Panel on Space Exploration Activities, a Symposium on Space and Water, video documentaries on the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space and a multinational exhibition entitled "50 Years of Space Achievements" with 30 States and international organizations exhibiting their achievements in space activities.

    The Committee reviewed its accomplishments of half a century and considered its future role. The Committee also discussed regular agenda items, including "Ways and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes", "Spin-off benefits of space technology" and "Space and society" with the special theme "Space and education" as well as issues raised in the reports of its two Subcommittees - the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee.

    The Committee agreed to recommend to the General Assembly at its 62nd session that Bolivia and Switzerland become members of the Committee and decided to recommend granting of permanent observer status to the African Organization of Cartography and Remote Sensing.                                                                     

    Implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III

    The Committee reviewed and finalized its contribution to the Commission on Sustainable Development for the 2008-2009 cycle of the multi-year programme of work of the Commission. In that period the Commission will focus on agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa.                                                           

    Space-System-Based Disaster Management Support 

    The Committee approved the workplan for 2007 and for the biennium 2008-2009 for the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), highlighting the benefits that such a programme will bring to developing countries, particularly to those countries that have frequent disasters and that would benefit from the access and use of space-based solutions for disaster management. The Committee considered further implementation of UN-SPIDER, as well as the proposed activities to be carried out by the offices in Beijing, China, and in Bonn, Germany, as well as by a liaison office in Geneva, Switzerland.

    Practice of States and International Organizations in Registering Space Objects

    COPUOS endorsed a set of conclusions of the Working Group on the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects, and agreed on a draft resolution to be submitted to the General Assembly at its 62nd session.

    Use of space-derived geospatial data for sustainable development

    Under this new agenda item, the Committee discussed societal benefits of using timely and high-quality space-derived geospatial data for sustainable development in application areas such as agriculture, deforestation assessment, disaster monitoring, drought relief, and land use. The Committee was also informed of the large extent to which United Nations entities are already using space-derived geospatial data. At  the next session, the Committee will invite expert presentations on experiences in the establishment of appropriate national infrastructure for space-derived geospatial data collection, processing and application, including human resource training, technical infrastructure and financial requirements, and institutional arrangements.

    Space and water                                                                                                                   

    The Committee discussed prospects of future developments in the use of space technology for water resources management. A Symposium on "Space of Water" explored the role of space technology applications in addressing global challenges to the world's water resources and discussed strategies and tools to ensure wider access to safe, clean and sustainable water. The Committee agreed to continue consideration of this item at its next session, further exploring ways in which space applications could significantly contribute to cost-effective water resource management as well as to the prediction and mitigation of water-related emergencies.

    High-level Panel on Space Exploration Activities

    The Panel offered insights into ongoing national and global space exploration initiatives and on the possible future role the United Nations system could play in providing a forum for space-faring and space-using countries alike to consider space exploration related issues. The panel speakers included high-level representatives of space agencies from China, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United States and the European Space Agency.     

    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.

    The following inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations have permanent observer status with COPUOS: Association of Space Explorers, Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, Committee on Space Research, Regional Centre for Remote Sensing of the North African States, Eurisy, European Space Agency, European Space Policy Institute, International Academy of Astronautics, International Astronautical Federation, International Astronomical Union, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, International Law Association, International Mobile Satellite Organization, Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, International Space University, National Space Society, Space Generation Advisory Council, World Space Week Association and The Planetary Society.

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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/.

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    For information contact:

    Romana Kofler
    Associate Programme Officer
    Telephone: +43 1 26060-4962
    E-mail: copuos50@unvienna.org

    Further information on the 50 th session of COPUOS at: http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/events/copuos50.html