Press Releases

    UNIS/OS/367
    31 March 2008

    Outer Space Legal Subcommittee to Hold 47th Session in Vienna

    VIENNA, 31 March (UN Information Service) - - Capacity-building in space law and exchange of information on national legislation relevant to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space will be two new items on the agenda of the 47th session of the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). The session takes place from 31 March to 11 April in Vienna, Austria.

    Other topics include the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space, the definition and delimitation of outer space, the draft Protocol on Matters Specific to Space Assets to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment, review and possible revision of the principles relevant to the use of nuclear power sources in outer space, and matters relating to the character and use of the geostationary orbit. As in previous years, international organizations will be invited to report on their activities related to space law.

    Space Law Symposium

    This year's topic of a symposium, accompanying the session of the Legal Subcommittee, relates to the legal implications of space applications for global climate change. Organized by the International Institute of Space Law and the European Centre for Space Law, the symposium contains two sessions: "Legal Implications of Space Applications for Climate Change: Principles and Rules" and "Legal Implications of Space Applications for Climate Change: Institutions and Instruments", and will be held on 31 March and 1 April.

    Status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space

    At the current session, the working group on this item will address, in particular, the low participation of States in the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, by (a) reviewing activities currently being carried out on the Moon and other celestial bodies or to be carried out in the near future; (b) identifying the benefits of adherence to the Moon Agreement; (c) identifying the international and national rules governing the activities on the Moon and other celestial bodies; and (d) assessing whether existing international rules adequately address activities on the Moon and other celestial bodies.

    The working group will also discuss the status of the other four United Nations treaties governing the legal regime in outer space and review their application and implementation.

    Definition and delimitation of outer space

    The working group on this matter will review responses by Member States to a questionnaire on possible legal issues with regard to aerospace objects. The working group will also examine replies by Member States on national legislation and practice relating to definition and delimitation, as well their replies on existing questions regarding the definition and delimitation of outer space.

    Registering property interests in space assets

    The Subcommittee will continue its consideration of this item with a view to examining and reviewing the developments concerning the 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 move 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.

    Capacity-building in space law

    Deliberations under this new agenda item in 2008 aim at promoting cooperation with and assistance to developing countries. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) will also present its efforts to develop a curriculum for a basic course on space law, as discussed at the United Nations Expert Meeting on Promoting Education in Space Law, held in Vienna in December 2007. The main objective is to use this curriculum to initiate space law studies in the four regional centres on space science and technology education that are affiliated to the United Nations and located in Africa, Asia and South America.

    General exchange of information on national legislation relevant to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space

    This new agenda item will be considered by the Subcommittee under the multi-year work plan for the period of 2008-2011. As this is the first year of the work plan, the Subcommittee will consider presentations by Member States of reports on their national legislation. A working group on this item will be established next year.

    Membership

    The Legal Subcommittee, like COPUOS, its parent committee, has the following 69 Member States: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bolivia, 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, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

    The following intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations have permanent observer status with COPUOS: African Organization of Cartography and Remote Sensing, 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, The Planetary Society and World Spaceweek Association.

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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 (UNOOSA) 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, UNOOSA maintains a website at www.unoosa.org

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    For further information, please contact:

    Romana Kofler
    Associate Programme Officer, UNOOSA
    Telephone: (+43 1) 26060-4962
    Email: romana.kofler@unvienna.org