Press Releases

    UNIS/OS/336
    15 June 2006

    Ceremony Unveils United Nations Flag Returned from Space

    VIENNA, 15 June (UN Information Service) - A United Nations flag that was carried onboard China's first human spaceflight, Shen Zhou V, was unveiled in a special ceremony, co-organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) and the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations (Vienna) on 13 June at the Vienna International Centre (VIC). The ceremony was presided over by Antonio Maria Costa, Under-Secretary General and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna; Tang Guoqiang, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations (Vienna); Gérard Brachet, Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS); Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut; and Sergio Camacho Lara, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA). The ceremony was attended by members of the diplomatic community and delegates to the 49th session of COPUOS, currently being held at the VIC.

    Referring to the journey of Colonel Yang, Mr. Costa said: "His voyage was not only one giant step for China, it was a commitment - manifested by the UN flag - to use outer space for peaceful purposes and for the betterment of all humankind."

    Following an offer by China to the United Nations Secretary-General in July 2003, the flag was provided for the space mission at a ceremony held in Vienna. The flag was returned to the United Nations in 2004.

    "This flag signifies the fruitful China-UN cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space and symbolizes the courage and determination of developing countries to make unremitting efforts in exploring outer space," said Ambassador Tang. "The flag carries with it the ardent expectation of the 1.3 billion Chinese people that the UN will achieve its objectives of safeguarding world peace, promoting human development and expanding international cooperation."

    Commending China's achievements in the field of space science and technology, Mr. Brachet highlighted some of China's activities in the international arena in the peaceful uses of outer space. These include cooperation with Brazil on the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite, hosting the future Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization, co-chairing the Action Team on Disaster Management of COPUOS and hosting a United Nations Workshop on Tele-health Development in Asia and the Pacific, which was held in December 2005 within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications.

    The flag will be permanently displayed at the UN space exhibit and can be viewed as part of a guided tour of the VIC.

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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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    To book a guided tour, contact:

    UNIS Vienna Visitors Service
    Telephone: +43 1 260 60 3328
    E-mail: tours@unvienna.org

    For information on OOSA, contact:

    Qais Sultan
    Associate Programme Officer, OOSA
    Telephone: +43 1 260 60 4962
    E-mail: qais.sultan@unvienna.org

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