STATEMENT BY SIMONETTA DI PIPPO

DIRECTOR

UNITED NATIONS OFFICE FOR OUTER SPACE AFFAIRS

Fifty-sixth session of the Legal Subcommittee  

of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

Vienna, 27 March -7 April 2017

 

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

On behalf of the Office for Outer Space Affairs, I welcome you all to the fifty-sixth session of this Subcommittee and thank you for the opportunity to address this session on the work of the Office. I would also like to join you Madam Chair in welcoming New Zealand as a new State member of the Committee, as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a new permanent observer to the Committee.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

The fiftieth anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty, this year, influences the work of our Committee, both Subcommittees, and of the Office. Let me summarize here measures taken to raise awareness of this fundamental instrument.

Delegations have before them the draft declaration on the fifitieth anniversary of the Outer Space treaty, contained in document A/AC.105/C.2/L.300, as prepared by the Office to capture the principles laid down in the Treaty, its contemporary application, the desirability of its universalization, and the role played by the Committee, its Legal Subcommittee, and the Office for Outer Space Affairs in fostering its implementation.

Furthermore, the Office is preparing the mandated high-level panel discussion to be held on the opening day of the sixtieth session of the Committee in June this year. The panel will be moderated by the chair of COPUOS and comprise the entities mandated to hold the long-standing series of symposiums, represented by the Presidents of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL), and the Director of UNOOSA. The panel will therefore combine the fundamental pillars of science, technology, policy, law and executive management.

The Office is now finalizing the process for publishing a new special edition of the Treaty Booklet, entitled "International Space Law: United Nations Instruments", to be presented to all delegations on the opening day of COPUOS this year, in conjunction with the high-level panel discussion.

The General Assembly in its resolution 71/90 decided to convene a joint half-day panel discussion of the First Committee and the Fourth Committee on possible challenges to space security and sustainability, which will constitute a joint contribution by those Committees to the fiftieth anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty. The joint panel discussion will take place in October this year in New York. Preparations are being carried out in coordination with the Office for Disarmament Affairs. A tentative outline for this panel discussion will be presented to COPUOS in June this year.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

In this context I wish to inform delegations that the report on the 10 th United Nations Workshop on Space Law on the theme "Contribution of space law and policy to space governance and space security in the twenty-first century" is presented in document A/AC.105/1131. The report contains a set of conclusions, observations and recommendations of direct relevance to the efforts to enhance the safety, security and sustainability of outer space activities, the importance of regional and interregional cooperation in that regard, and efforts under the UNISPACE+50 process.

Together with Austria, the Office is preparing for the upcoming Graz Symposium, to be held in September this year. A new and unique cross-sectoral approach will be taken in fostering the integration of space technology applications and space law and policy development, with special attention to sustainable development and the needs of developing countries.

Furthermore, the Office is organizing a high-level panel, entitled "pillars for global governance of outer space activities in the 21st century", as part of the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law Conference on global space governance, to be held on 5-6 May in Montreal, Canada. And, together with the International Institute of Space Law, the Office has applied to organize a panel discussion dedicated to the 50 th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia. The Office is furthermore preparing, together with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Secretariat, the 3rd ICAO/UNOOSA Aerospace Symposium to be held here at the Vienna International Centre (VIC) on 29-31 August. The Symposium will provide participants with perspectives on several areas of interest to the air and space communities. A dedicated webpage has been established on the website of the Office with a link to the corresponding ICAO website.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

The treaty-based obligations of the Secretary-General under the legal regime on outer space form a foundation under international law for transparency and confidence-building in the safety, security and sustainability of outer space activities.

With regard to its responsibilities in discharging the Secretary-General's obligations under international space law, in particular the maintenance of the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space, the Office is pleased to note that a number of new space nations are actively working to register their space objects and fulfill their treaty obligations.

Since our session last year, the Office is pleased to report that Algeria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Denmark, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, the Russian Federation, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Uruguay have provided registration information to the Secretary-General under the Registration Convention or Assembly resolution 1721 B (XVI).

In connection with Article II of the Registration Convention on the establishment of national space object registries, Austria, Denmark, Peru and Slovakia have transmitted notifications of the establishment of their national registries. The Office would like to invite other States Parties that have not done so to inform the Secretary-General accordingly.

At the same time, and as delegates are aware, the last few years have seen a significant increase in the number of satellites launched per year: from 120 in 2010 to 220 in 2016. It is expected that these numbers will continue to increase in the future. Unfortunately, I regret to inform delegates that the total number of unregistered space objects per year has also increased, from 10 in 2010 to 160 in 2016. The Office invites States and international inter-governmental organizations that have not done so to register their space objects with the Secretary-General. My staff stand ready to provide any assistance that may be required.

The Office is also pleased to inform the Subcommittee that a growing number of states are providing additional information on their space objects as recommended by resolution 62/101. The information includes changes of geosynchronous orbit (GSO) positions, details of satellite decommissioning, and information on owners/operators.

With regard to implementing the other obligations of the Secretary-General, the Office received and disseminated information provided by Indonesia and the United States of America under Article V of the Rescue Agreement on the recovery of space objects within their territories, as well as information provided by the United Kingdom under Article XI of the Outer Space Treaty.

In addition, the Office continues to serve as the United Nations focal point on re-entry of nuclear-powered space objects for the Joint Radiation Emergency Management Plan of the International Organizations.

The summary above on the status of formal actions under the treaties and principles demonstrates the importance of further enhancing the application and implementation of obligations under the United Nations instruments on outer space.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

In this overall context, and in line with the request of the 58th session of the Committee to issue a special report by UN-Space on the implementation of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) report, the special report entitled "Role of United Nations entities in supporting Member States in the implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities" is available in all the United Nations languages in document A/AC.105/1116.

In meeting the request of the Committee made at its 59th session last year, States members of the Committee received an official invitation in January this year to submit views on the report under consideration, and on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities, for consideration at the sixtieth session of the Committee in June 2017 (see OOSA/2017/1 - CU 2017/27 of 26 January 2017).

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

The fifty-fourth session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee this year considered the preparations for UNISPACE+50 and had several documents before it, also available on the session webpage. I will here make a brief update. In accordance with the plan of work for UNISPACE+50, contained in document A/AC.105/L.297 and endorsed by the Committee at its 58th session in 2015, the preparations for UNISPACE+50 are well underway.

A detailed description of the UNISPACE+50 thematic priorities, their objectives and the respective mechanisms as indicated by the Committee for their implementation are contained in the 2016 report of the Committee (document A/71/20, para. 296). Moreover, the status of preparations for UNISPACE+50 is further described in Conference Room Paper 5 (A/AC.105/C.2/2017/CRP.5), which is before delegations at this current session and is intended to assist delegations further in preparation for UNISPACE+50. This is the same document the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee had before it this year, so that the two Subcommittees are provided with the same status report. An updated version will be presented to COPUOS in June.

CRP.5 provides a detailed overview of the preparations for UNISPACE+50, including information on actions taken and activities in preparation under the 7 thematic priorities. This overall status report provides us with incentives for our concerted preparations in the Committee and its two Subcommittees. CRP.5 also outlines the way in which we may achieve our goals through the dedicated UNISPACE+50 segment, to be held on the first two days of the sixty-first session of COPUOS next year. This particular matter should be agreed to by the Committee at its sixtieth session in June this year in order for the Office to be able to take the necessary planning actions for a successful UNISPACE+50 segment. A dedicated webpage on the website of the Office has been established and is under further development to provide clear information. In support of this, on 18 th of May this year, a special briefing on UNISPACE+50 will be held by the Director of UNOOSA for Permanent Missions, combined with the regular briefing before the Committee session.

The historical overview of UNISPACE conferences and the way ahead, which last year was presented as a conference room paper, is now issued as document A/AC.105/1137 in all the official United Nations languages.

To provide an opportunity for the collective space community to elaborate recommendations for the UNISPACE+50 blueprint and to further advance the debate on the role of space science and technology in fostering global development, the Office for Outer Space Affairs, in collaboration with the Government of the United Arab Emirates, organized the High Level Forum on space as a driver for socioeconomic sustainable development in November 2016. The Forum declaration, branded "Dubai Declaration", is annexed to document A/AC.105/1129, is available on the website of the Office, and represents an important step in the broader context of UNISPACE+50 and in the long-term perspective towards 2030.

The next High Level Forum will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 6 to 9 November 2017, with a focus on building stronger partnerships among space actors. The 2018 Forum will be co-organized with Germany and co-sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), and held in Bonn, Germany, in the second half of 2018. That Forum will focus on the implementation of UNISPACE+50 deliverables and outcomes towards a Space2030 agenda.

Also, I am pleased to inform delegations that a letter of designation of Mr. Scott Kelly, former astronaut of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as United Nations Champion for Space was signed at the Forum held in Dubai last year. As Champion for Space, Scott Kelly will support the Office for Outer Space Affairs to promote space as a tool for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as raise awareness of the Office's activities, including activities related to UNISPACE+50.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

At the Office for Outer Space Affairs, we consider global challenges and goals before humanity from not only a professional but also a personal perspective. All of us understand the fundamental importance of achieving true gender equality globally, and we strive to fully implement all relevant concepts in our workplaces and in our day-to-day operations. As part of the Secretariat of the United Nations, the Office for Outer Space Affairs aligns itself with the United Nations system-wide policy on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

At the present session of the Subcommittee, delegations will have before them Conference Room Paper 4, which outlines the work and plans of the Office in the field of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The paper also provides information about the International Gender Champions Initiative, which has recently been extended to Vienna. This extension to Vienna, and indeed the Initiative itself, were made in response to continuous joint efforts by Member States and the Organization aimed at strengthening work in the field of gender equality and empowerment of women.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

The Office continues to coordinate with the UNISPACE+50 Steering Committee, which was established by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in June 2015 and endorsed by the General Assembly in the same year to guide the preparations for UNISPACE+50, with the sixth meeting of the Steering Committee held a day ahead of the present session of the Subcommittee.

Furthermore, in order to strengthen the organizational, logistical and financial implementation of UNISPACE+50 in Vienna in 2018, the Office for Outer Space Affairs, together with Austria, our host country, is in the process of establishing the UNISPACE+50 Local Organizing Committee to jointly secure local organization matters in support of the preparation and implementation of events for UNISPACE+50.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

Underscoring the importance of UNISPACE+50 for the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, its subsidiary bodies and the Office for Outer Space Affairs in strengthening our unified efforts to define concrete deliverables pertaining to space for global sustainable development, I reiterate our invitation to States members and permanent observers of the Committee to consider providing voluntary support and funds to enable the Office to prepare, structure and implement activities on the promotion of space-based applications and technologies to help Member States to meet objectives of the global development agenda. I would also like to thank those States and organizations that have already contributed to the fundraising initiative and encourage all interested stakeholders to join this important endeavour.

The diminishing regular budget, increasing demand for assistance from a growing number of Member States, and the additional mandate of the United Nations system relating to the fulfilment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goalss, to which the Office is also mandated to contribute, are factors that considerably change the way the Office needs to operate in order to better service Member States. While, in coping with a decrease of resources, the Office has undertaken a number of transitional measures, the shortfall in the level of the Office's human resources continues to be a matter of great concern. In the absence of being able to secure extra resources that we can use to strengthen, sustainably, human resources, the Office will be obliged to limit the number of activities to be implemented. Support on a voluntary basis from Member States and all other relevant potential donors is therefore of profound importance to us.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

The Office continues to collaborate with the Panel of Experts established by the UN Security Council resolution 1874 (2009), adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, to gather, examine and analyze information regarding the implementation of the measures imposed on DPRK by the Security Council. The Office takes weighted and thorough actions in order to make sure that its activities, as well as those activities performed by entities affiliated to the United Nations in accordance with the mandate by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, are in strict compliance with the Security Council regime. I have recently informed the Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres, about the situation.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

In concluding, let me reiterate our Office's commitment to dedicating our energy and resources to carrying out our mandate and to serving the interests of Member States in the area of space law and policy, including on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Annex

COOPERATION AGREEMENTS

The following agreements have been negotiated and signed between the Office for Outer Space Affairs and various parties since the 59th session of the Committee in June 2016:

- Funding Agreement between the United Nations and the Republic of Austria (Bund), represented by the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit), represented by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) (3 February 2017);

- Cooperation Agreement between the United Nations, represented by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, and GRID-ARENDAL, establishing a Regional Support Office of the United Nations Platform for Space-Based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response Programme (UN-SPIDER) (19 December 2016);

- Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (11 December 2016);

- Funding Agreement between the United Nations, represented by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, and the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (11 December 2016);

- Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations, represented by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, and the Mexican Space Agency of the United Mexican States (28 September 2016);

- Cooperation Agreement between the United Nations, represented by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, and the Mexican Space Agency of the United Mexican States to facilitate cooperation and host a Regional Support Office for implementing the activities of the United Nations Platform for Space-Based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response Programme (UN-SPIDER) (28 September 2016);

- Funding Agreement between the United Nations, represented by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, and CANEUS International to fund a pre-feasibility study of "UNOOSA-coordinated partnership for a constellation of EO/GNSS/telecommunication satellites" (27 September 2016);

- Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations, represented by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, and the European GNSS Agency (15 July 2016);

- Framework Agreement for Cooperation between the United Nations, represented by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, and the Government of El Salvador (14 July 2016);

- Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations, represented by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, and the Sierra Nevada Corporation (21 June 2016).

EXCHANGE OF LETTERS

In 2016, the Office concluded exchanges of letters for the purpose of conducting its activities with the Governments of China, Costa Rica, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Mexico, Nepal, and the United Arab Emirates.

The following requirements are essential for the conclusion of Host Country Agreements:

1)         The need for timely conclusion of an agreement/exchange of letters prior to the holding of workshops, training courses, seminars and symposia, organized by the Office on behalf of the United Nations and held away from established Headquarters. Agreements should be concluded at least 3-6 months before the anticipated date of the meeting to allow formal letters of invitation and other obligations to be carried out. Once firm deadlines for the conclusion of all legal arrangements have been established, non-compliance could result in the postponement or cancellation of the event; and

2)         The observance of the fundamental purpose of Host Country Agreements, namely the need to ensure that (a) the necessary privileges and immunities are granted by the host Government to all persons participating in or providing services for the event; (b) all invitees to a United Nations event are granted unimpeded access to and from the meeting venue, and that no limitations of a domestic nature are placed on the granting of visas where the latter are necessary; (c) the host Government will indemnify and hold the United Nations harmless for any injury or loss occurring within the premises or the transportation provided by the host Government, or by the support personnel provided for the event by the Government; and (d) an effective provision on the peaceful settlement of disputes is provided.

COMMUNICATION ACTIVITIES AND OUTREACH EVENTS

Champion for Space

An important development in UNOOSA's outreach activities was the designation in November of former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly as United Nations Champion for Space. Mr. Kelly will help UNOOSA promote the Office's activities as well as the use of space as a tool for sustainable development. The Champion for Space role is based on the United Nations Messengers of Peace model, whereby distinguished individuals agree to help focus worldwide attention on the work of the United Nations. Mr Kelly's term as Champion for Space is for an initial period of two years.

Following the announcement of the Champion for Space, the Office conducted a "Twitter takeover" whereby Mr. Kelly tweeted from UNOOSA's Twitter account for a day about the importance of space for sustainable development issues, among other topics. This gained much attention on social media and further built an ongoing audience for the Office's messages. On 12 April 2017, for International Day of Human Space Flight, Mr. Kelly will participate in an interview with UNOOSA via social media. He also features in a short video that is currently under development by the Office and the Department of Public Information for International Day of Human Space Flight.

High Level Forum

The News and Media Division of the United Nations Department of Public Information in New York worked with the Office to cover the Forum, conducting interviews with the Director of UNOOSA, Office staff, Forum participants and the newly appointed Champion for Space. The News and Media Division, including two staff who joined the Office at the Forum, produced a large number of news, radio and video pieces in 8 languages about the Forum and space for sustainable development, which were promoted on United Nations' social media accounts. This was the first time the Office partnered with the News and Media Division in this way, and it helped to significantly increase outreach efforts around the Forum and its themes.

International Astronautical Congress

UNOOSA increased its outreach activities at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, in September. In addition to the promotion of the annual United Nations-International Astronautical Federation workshop that preceded IAC, for the first time UNOOSA also had a booth at the IAC exhibit. The Office received many visitors at the booth who wanted to learn about the Office's work, and UNOOSA staff were on hand to discuss a range of topics. The booth was also the site of two UNOOSA press conferences held at IAC - one with JAXA and the University of Nairobi to discuss the first round of KiboCUBE and announce the second round, and another press conference with Sierra Nevada Corporation to announce further details of their partnership with the Office. It was also a useful venue for media interviews with the Director of the Office.

My Planet from Space: Fragility and Beauty

In 2016 UNOOSA collaborated with the European Space Agency (ESA) in its production of a book from the joint exhibition at United Nations Headquarters in New York in 2015 entitled "My Planet from Space: Fragility and Beauty". A joint event was held with ESA during the 54th session of Scientific and Technical Subcommittee in February 2017 where the book was presented to delegations. The event also included a panel discussion on the value of space technology in combatting climate change.

Other outreach activities

At IAC the Office debuted a short video produced by DigitalGlobe in cooperation with the Office. The video shows how valuable space is for sustainable development and highlights the Office's partnership with DigitalGlobe for providing satellite imagery as part of disaster response.

The Office is also reaching out to younger audiences about space, and during World Space Week last October launched a children's art competition in cooperation with the Spanish NGO Peace and Cooperation. Children of all ages are invited to submit artwork with the theme of "Looking to the Stars - the Future of the World". The winners will be announced in October 2017. Delegations are encouraged to promote this in their respective countries.

Lastly, the Office's first ever Annual Report was presented to the Committee in June last year. This was an important development in the Office's awareness raising efforts. Work has begun on the 2016 Annual Report and this will be presented to the Committee in June 2017.

Upcoming activities

The coming months will see a number of preparations for upcoming communications and outreach activities, including, but not limited to, International Day of Human Space Flight, IAC 2017 in Adelaide, Australia, the Space for Women Expert Meeting in New York, the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty, the High Level Forum, and International Asteroid Day after it was proclaimed by the General Assembly in resolution 71/90. There will be further involvement from the UN Champion for Space, Mr. Scott Kelly, in outreach efforts. Preparations for UNISPACE+50 outreach activities will also ramp up. Delegations are encouraged to follow those activities on social media.

UPDATE ON STAFF MOVEMENTS AND ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES

During the past year the Office had a number of staff movements. Presently there are 2 vacancies in the Space Applications Section (1 G-4 and 1 P-4 (in Beijing)). The selection process for the G-4 and temporary P-4 in Beijing are well underway.

In 2016 Ms. Daria Brankin of New Zealand was appointed to a P-2 (temporary) position in the Office of the Director. Mr. Kurian Maniyanipurathu of India was appointed to G-5 in the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section. Mr. Jorge Del Rio Vera of Spain was appointed to the P-3 and Mr. Christopher Sto. Domingo of Philippines to the G-4 positions in the Space Applications Section. Mr. Daniel Garcia Yarnoz of Spain and Mr. Shirish Ravan of India were appointed to temporary P-2 and P-5 positions in the Space Applications Section.

Mr. Stefan Kienberger of Austria, Ms. Tang Tong and Ms. Sun Jiayi of China, and Ms. Ayami Kojima of Japan joined the Office on non-reimbursable loan basis. Ms. Yukiko Okumura of Japan joined on 13 February as a junior professional officer and Mr. Du Hui of China is expected to join soon on non-reimbursable loan basis.

UPDATE ON RESOURCES

Regular Budget Resources overview

  Thousands of United States dollars

2010-2011

Expenditure

2012-2013

Expenditure

2014-2015

Expenditure

2016-2017

A/70/6 (Sect.6) (Revised appropriation)

2018-2019

(Starting position)

8 592.0

8 305.5

7 774.3*

7 222.6**

7 161.9***

*Expenditure level reflects the impact of the decision of the Committee to cancel the activities planned under the Space Applications Programme from July-December 2015.

** Including $197,400 for the 4 activities that were postponed from 2015 to 2016.

***Before re-costing.

Extra-budgetary Resources overview

Thousands of United States dollars

 

2016

Donors

Cash contributions (excl.prior period adjustments)

881.7

Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation (APSCO); Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC); Augustin Codazzi Geographic Institute of Colombia (IGAC); Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG); Beihang Univeristy; CANEUS; Centre for Remote Sensing of Land Surface of the University of Bonn; China Manned Space Agency (CMSA); China National Space Administration (CNSA); European Commission; European Space Agency; GfRMbH Galileo Control Centre; German Aerospace Center (DLR); Government of Austria (Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Innovation und Technologie (BMVIT)); Government of China; Government of Dominican Republic (National Emergency Commission); Government of Germany (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)); Government of Japan; Government of Kenya; Government of Nepal (Survey Department, Ministry of Land Reform and Management); International Astronautical Federation (IAF); International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD); International Water Management Institute (IWMI); Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); Mexican Space Agency of the United Mexican States (AEM); National Disaster Reduction Centre of China (NDRDCC); National Institute of Aeronautics and Space of the Republic of Indonesia (LAPAN); Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO); Secure World Foundation; Sierra Nevada Corporation; United Arab Emirates Space Agency and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre; and Department of Geoinformatics of University of Salzburg.

In-kind contributions*

(Assessed at)

408.7

* Excludes the assessed value of the salaries for 6 staff providing services to the Office under the Non-reimbursable loan framework (Beijing, 2; Bonn, 1; and Vienna, 3) .

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