Working Groups of the Committee and its Subcommittees

The following Working Groups are presently conducting work in the Committee and its Subcommittees:

Scientific and Technical Subcommittee

Working Group on the Long term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities

The Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities was established under the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee to identify areas of concern for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, propose measures that could enhance sustainability, and produce voluntary guidelines to reduce risks to the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. The Working Group and its Expert Groups have addressed thematic areas including sustainable space utilization supporting sustainable development on Earth; space debris, space operations and tools to support collaborative space situational awareness; space weather; and regulatory regimes and guidance for actors in the space arena.

At the fifty-ninth session of the Committee, in June 2016, a first set of guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities was agreed upon (A/71/20, Annex). Discussions continue on a preambular text and a second set of guidelines, which will be brought together with the first set to form a full compendium of guidelines. The full compendium will then be referred to the General Assembly in 2018. 

A dedicated webpage contains the latest information relevant to members of this Working Group.

Working Group of the Whole

The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee's Working Group of the Whole was established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 41/64 of 3 December 1986. Originally tasked with evaluating the implementation of recommendations made by the Second United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the Working Group presently considers a number of issues, such as the use of space technology for socio-economic development in the context of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development and the post-2015 development agenda, global health and organizational matters In 2015, the Working Group established an Expert Group on Space and Global Health, which reviews and analyses current uses of space technology, applications, practices and initiatives in support of global health needs ( A/AC.105/C.1/2015/CRP.29, para. 4).

Working Group on the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space

The Working Group on the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space has a long record of productive work under matters under its consideration. In 2009, the Working Group developed, jointly with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Safety Framework for Nuclear Power Source Applications in Outer Space. Currently, the Working Group is working under objectives of its multi-year workplan for 2010-2017, which are:

  • To promote and facilitate the implementation of the Safety Framework for Nuclear Power Source Applications in Outer Space by providing information pertinent to challenges faced by member States and international intergovernmental organizations, in particular those considering or initiating involvement in applications of nuclear power sources (NPS) in outer space;
  • To identify any technical topics for, and establish the objectives, scope and attributes of, any potential additional work by the Working Group to further enhance safety in the development and use of space NPS applications. Any such additional work would require the approval of the Subcommittee and would be developed with due consideration for relevant principles and treaties.

For documents of the Working Group, please click here.

 

Legal Subcommittee

Working Group on the Status and Application of the Five United Nations Treaties on Outer Space

This Working Group was established under the Legal Subcommittee to review the status of the treaties, their implementation and obstacles to their universal acceptance, as well as to promote space law, especially through the UN Programme on Space Application ( A/AC.105.763, para. 118). The Working Group has addressed the application and implementation of the concept of the "launching State," and continues to review and synthesize responses to a set of questions on issues relating to the Moon Agreement, including its benefits, as well as its principles and provisions in need of clarity; on issues relating to the implementation of the mechanisms of responsibility and liability of States parties to the UN treaties on outer space activities, including the notions of "fault" and "damage" under these instruments; and on issues related to the registration of space objects, including their ownership, jurisdiction and control ( A/AC.105/C.2/2012/CRP.10).

Working Group on the Definition and Delimitation of Outer Space

This Working Group considers various matters relating to the definition and delimitation of outer space. It considers, among other things, information on national legislation and practice relating to the definition and delimitation of outer space, and reviews responses of States and international organizations to questionnaires on issues relating to the definition and delimitation of outer space, as well as on issues relating to suborbital flights for scientific missions and/or for human spaceflight. For documents of the Working Group, please click here.

Working Group on the Review of International Mechanisms for Cooperation in the Peaceful Exploration and Use of Outer Space

This Working Group was established under the Legal Subcommittee with a five-year work plan to provide for an exchange of information on the range of existing international space cooperation mechanisms ( A/AC.105/1003, para. 179). The Working Group seeks to categorize mechanisms for international cooperation, which should lead to a better understanding of different approaches to cooperation in space activities; to identify the types and content of cooperative mechanisms being used; and to analyse its findings to consider how its work can be used to strengthen international cooperation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space ( A/AC.105/C.2/2015/IMC/L.1, para 6). 

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