LEGAL SUBCOMMITTEE, Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Fifty-third session, 24 March - 4 April 2014




Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

It is a pleasure and an honour for me indeed, in my new capacity as Director of the Office for Outer Space Affairs, to welcome you all to the fifty-third session of the Legal Subcommittee and to thank you for the opportunity to address this session of the Subcommittee on the work of the Office in areas related to space law. Today is my firstday in the Office, and I am committed to devote all my energy, skills and experience into carrying out the mandate of the Office.

On behalf of the Office, I warmly welcome you, Mr. Chairman, and congratulate you on your election. My colleagues and I assure you of our commitment to assist you in making this session a success.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Professor Vladimír Kopal on 27 January 2014. For more than 50 years, the late Professor Kopal participated in and contributed to many sessions of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its Subcommittees in different capacities, as the Chief of the then United Nations Outer Space Affairs Divisions from 1983 to 1988, and as the Chairman of the Legal Subcommittee from 1999 through 2003 and for the biennium 2008-2009.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

I would like to proceed by reviewing the work of the Office for Outer Space Affairs relating to international space law over the last year and to touch upon plans for the future.

During the last year, the Office continued to discharge the responsibilities of the Secretary-General under the United Nations treaties on outer space.

With regard to the United Nations Register on Objects launched into Outer Space, maintained by the Office for Outer Space Affairs under the 1976 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space and General Assembly resolution 1721 (XVI) B of 20 December 1961, since our session last year, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America as well as the European Space Agency have furnished registration information to the Secretary-General.

In connection with Article II of the Registration Convention on the establishment of national space object registries, the Office is pleased to report that Mexico and Norway have recently informed the Secretary-General of the establishment of their national registries. The Office would like to invite Parties that have not done so to inform the Secretary-General accordingly.

With regard to implementation of resolution 62/101 on registration practices, the Office continues its dialogue with Member States and international intergovernmental organizations on these issues. It should be noted that the willingness to review and revise those practices has resulted in a greater number of States and intergovernmental organizations harmonizing their registration practices.

The Office would like to encourage all Member States who have launched and/or operate space objects to register them with the Secretary-General in accordance with the Registration Convention or General Assembly resolution 1721 B (XVI). We are deeply committed to ensuring we discharge our responsibilities within the mandates given to us in the most effective and efficient manner, and are pleased that the Register continues to enhance confidence among space actors by providing transparency through its mechanisms. As delegates are aware, the Office maintains a searchable online index of objects launched into outer space.

With regard to implementing the other obligations of the Secretary-General, the Office is pleased to inform that it has received and disseminated supplementary information provided by the Netherlands under Article XI of the Outer Space Treaty. In addition, the Office received and disseminated information provided by the United States under Article V of the Rescue Agreement on the recovery of a space object within its territory.

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. In this capacity, the Office maintains close contact with the Incident and Emergency Response Centre of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is the coordinating entity for the Plan, regarding notifications of nuclear-powered space objects as well as supplementary information on other space objects reentering the Earth's atmosphere.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

As part of its activities in the field of capacity building in space law, the Office organized a special session on space law on 3 December 2013, as an associated event of the African Leadership Conference held in Accra from 3 to 5 December 2013. The space law session focused on capacity-building in space law, legal aspects of space debris, obligations of States under international treaties on outer space, and national legislation relevant to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space from an African perspective.

I am also pleased to inform that the Office, in its efforts to build capacity in space law, is currently in contact with the Government of China regarding arrangements for organizing the United Nations/China Workshop on Space Law, co-organized with APSCO, which is planned to be held in Beijing in November this year. In this connection, I wish to express the Organization's gratitude to the Government of China for its generous offer to support the relevant activities of the Office with a contribution of USD 20,000 received in 2013. I wish to also use this opportunity to thank APSCO for its support to the organization of this workshop.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

As requested by the Subcommittee, in the past years, the Office has worked actively with experts from around the world on developing a curriculum on space law for the Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education, Affiliated to the United Nations. It is my pleasure to inform you that this work has come to a conclusion, and the completed Education Curriculum on Space Law is published and available on the website of the Office. In its support, the curriculum has a web-based compilation of reading materials, also to be found on the website of the Office. This compilation contains information, and when available, direct links to references and resources in the official languages of the United Nations, relevant for each of the modules and classes. Updates to the compilation of resources will be made as new or additional materials are identified, which makes the curriculum, as a whole, a living dynamic online tool for education in space law. A technical presentation, introducing the education curriculum, will be made by the Office during this session.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

The Office is pleased to inform the Subcommittee that it continues to update its space law dedicated web pages. Apart from providing Member States with reference tools such as the Online Index of Objects Launched into Outer Space, the National Space Law database, and the Treaty Status Database, the website also provides texts of the treaties, and relevant General Assembly resolutions and documents, in all official languages of the United Nations. The Office would like to take this opportunity to invite Member States to continue providing texts of their national space laws and policies for inclusion in the web site.

Over the past year we have made a number of improvements of sections relevant to the work of the Legal Subcommittee, such as enhancement of pages dedicated to sessions of the Subcommittee, creation of a special page with the comprehensive collection of documents relating to the item on the definition and delimitation of outer space, introduction of an online tool for digital recordings of sessions and meetings. In addition, a web page dedicated to the matters relating to space and development was established, and the web page for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities is being continuously updated. We also continue to add documents to our website entitled "United Nations Treaties and Principles on Outer Space: Travaux Préparatoires". The Office is in the process of including the preparatory works for the Registration Convention, so that all five treaties are covered.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

The Office continues to support the work of the Subcommittee in other areas relating to building capacity in space law. This includes:

-          updating of the "Directory of education opportunities in space Law"; the updated edition will be before you a conference room paper and will be placed on the website of the Office;

-          strengthening cooperation of our Office with space law entities and organizations with a view to contributing to worldwide efforts to promote understanding and the development of space law; and

-          promoting the application of international law and provision of technical assistance to Governments on matters related to space law.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

In connection with the practical and legal arrangements relating to the holding of workshops, training courses and seminars organized by the Office on behalf of the United Nations and held away from established Headquarters, I would like to draw your attention to the necessity for the conclusion of an Agreement/exchange of letters. It has been mandated by the General Assembly in GA resolution 47/202 of 22 December 1992 and reflected in document ST/AI/342 of 8 May 1987 that such agreements must be concluded prior to the holding of these events. Hence, I would urge Member States to be mindful that the Office will not proceed with such meetings in the future unless an Agreement with the standard UN clauses as outlined in document ST/AI/342 of 8 May 1987 is concluded at least 3 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, including Agreements and exchanges of letters, have been established, non-compliance could result in a postponement or cancellation of the event.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

With regard to the Office's strategic directions, I would like to bring to your attention that the draft of the Strategic Framework of the Programme for the period 2016-2017 has now been published and is available in the Official Document System of the United Nations under the document number A/69/6 (Prog.5). In June of this year, the Office will once again request the Committee to review the draft and to provide comments or suggest modifications to the text. The Committee's decisions and/or modifications will be communicated to the Committee on Programme Coordination (CPC). The CPC is responsible for reviewing the programmes of the United Nations and is expected to meet and decide on the Strategic Frameworks of the Secretariat in June/July 2014.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

On Friday, 12 April, the International Day of Human Space Flight declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011, will be celebrated globally. The Office will mark the event with the official launch of the third edition in our series of 'Messages from Space Explorers to future generations". This series of messages pays tribute to the extraordinary journey of the men and women who have flown into space, and captures their unique perspectives and experiences in a distinctive collection. The booklet will be available on the Office website from 11 April and we will be holding a related exhibition in the Rotunda from next Monday, 7 April for one week.

The Office will also mark the occasion of the International Day of Human Space Flight by holding a social media campaign which will include the opportunity for young people to ask questions directly to our Expert of Space Applications, Mr. Takao Doi, on topics related to Human Space Flight and the work of the Office.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

Before concluding, I would like to remind delegations that according to the agreement of the Committee (see A/58/20, annex 1, appendix 1 and 2) nominations for the bureaux of the Committee and its Subcommittees for the period 2016-2017 should be made at this upcoming session of the Committee in June 2014. According to the established rotation scheme, the nominations by the regional groups should be made as follows:

-          Chair of the Committee: Group of Western European and Other States;

-          1st Vice-Chair of the Committee: Group of Eastern European States;

-          2nd Vice-Chair/Rapporteur of the Committee: Group of African States;

-          Chair of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee: Group of Asian States;

-          Chair of the Legal Subcommittee: Group of Latin American and Caribbean States.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

In concluding, let me reiterate our Office's commitment to serving the interests of Member States in the area of space law.

Having my background in space science, in particular astrophysics and space physics, and with long-standing professional experience at both national and international intergovernmental level of international cooperation in space activities, including as Director of the European Space Agency Human Space Flight Directorate, I look forward to working closely with all of you in our common efforts to advancing the role of our Committee and its Subcommittees for the benefit of all humankind.

Thank you very much for your attention.



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