Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its Subcommittees

The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was set up by the General Assembly in 1959. Since its establishment, the Committee's membership has continued to expand. The Committee is the only committee of the General Assembly dealing exclusively with international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and its role as a forum to monitor and discuss developments related to the exploration and use of outer space has evolved alongside with the technical advancements in space exploration, geopolitical changes, and the evolving use of space science and technology for sustainable development.

Mandate

The overall mandate of the Committee and its two Subcommittees aims at strengthening the international legal regime governing outer space, resulting in improved conditions for expanding international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. The mandate also specifies that the Committee should supports efforts at the national, regional and global levels, including those of entities of the United Nations system and international space-related entities, to maximize the benefits of the use of space science and technology and their applications. Overall, the Committee aims to increase coherence and synergy in international cooperation in space activities at all levels.

The Office for Outer Space Affairs

The Committee is serviced by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, which was established in 1962 to support the work of the Committee and implement a multifaceted programme that covers the legal, scientific and political aspects of space-related activities.

Meetings

The Committee meets annually in Vienna, Austria, to discuss questions relating to current and future activities in space. Topics for discussion include maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes, safe operations in orbit, space debris, space weather, the threat from asteroids, the safe use of nuclear power in outer space, climate change, water management, global navigation satellite systems, and questions concerning space law and national space legislation. For the current COPUOS session, please click here.

Scientific and Technical Subcommittee

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The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (STSC) meets every year for two weeks to discuss questions related to the scientific and technical aspects of space activities. Topics for discussion include space weather, near-Earth objects, the use of space technology for socioeconomic development, or for disaster management support, global navigation satellite systems, and the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

STSC current session

Legal Subcommittee

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The Legal Subcommittee meets every year for two weeks to discuss legal questions related to the exploration and use of outer space. Topics include the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space, the definition and delimitation of outer space, national space legislation, legal mechanisms relating to space debris mitigation, and international mechanisms for cooperation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.

LSC current session

Bureau of the Committee

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The Bureau of the Committee consists of five offices: Chair, 1 st Vice-Chair, and 2 nd Vice-Chair / Rapporteur of the Committee, Chair of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, and Chair of the Legal Subcommittee. The five offices are held for a two-year-period at a time and they rotate among the five regional groups: African Group, Asia-Pacific States, Eastern European States, Latin American and Caribbean States, and Western European and other States. The Bureau leads the work of the Committee and its Subcommittees, and facilitates the preparation for and ensures the successful outcome of the sessions.

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