Statement by Simonetta Di Pippo, Director, UNOOSA, 58th session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Vienna, 10-19 June 2015

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

On behalf of the Office for Outer Space Affairs, it is my pleasure indeed to warmly welcome you all to the fifty-eighth session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Mr. Chairman, it is a great pleasure for me to once again see you chairing this session of the Committee. I would also like to welcome Rosa Vasquez Orozco of Ecuador in her capacity as First Vice-Chair and Ma Xinmin of China as Second Vice-Chair/Rapporteur of the Committee. I would like to assure you of the support of the Office in making this session a success.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

I am pleased to see the increasing importance the international community attaches to cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, as testified by the growing membership of the Committee. The legitimacy and universality of the United Nations position the Committee as the key forum for cooperation in the area of outer space, and we, the Office, are committed to catalysing and facilitating international dialogue and building capacities of all countries in their common endeavour of using space science and technology for achieving global development goals beyond 2015.

In this context, with the objectives of advancing cooperation in the area of peaceful uses of outer space to a new level and promoting space science and technology as universal tools for the attainment of the post-2015 development objectives, the Office will organize, on 15-17 November 2015 in Dubai, UAE, the United Nations/United Arab Emirates High-level Forum entitled "Space as a driver for socio-economic sustainable development". The Forum discussions will be organized within the following four domains, namely: space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy.

Delegations will have before them at this session a note by the Secretariat in document A/AC.105/L.297 on the 2018 UNISPACE+50 initiative of the outgoing, present and incoming Chairs of the Committee. The roadmap towards 2018 will require close coordination between the Committee and its Subcommittees, in cooperation with the Office. Additional High-level For a will take place in preparation of the UNISPACE+50 initiative, and will serve as a basis for further discussions on main topics on the future role of COPUOS and of the Office for Outer Space Affairs.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

In accordance with General Assembly resolution 69/38 a joint ad hoc meeting between the General Assembly First Committee and Fourth Committee will be held this year to address possible challenges to space security and sustainability. We are coordinating with the respective Secretariats in New York and with the Office for Disarmament Affairs on the organization of this meeting. It will be held on Thursday 22 October in the afternoon, will be chaired by the Presidents of the First and Fourth Committees, who will issue a summary of the debate according to the procedures of the Assembly. As to the format of the joint meeting, a panel discussion could be organized followed by general debate.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

The Office discharges the responsibilities of the Secretary-General under the United Nations treaties on outer space, and maintains the central United Nations Register on Objects Launched into Outer Space, under the obligation of the Registration Convention. Now, we can proudly commemorate the 40th anniversary of this important treaty, adopted on 12 November 1974, opened for signature on 14 January 1975, and entered into force on 15 September 1976. In this context, the role of the Office for Outer Space Affairs in providing one of the existing most important tools for enhancing transparency and confidence in space activities should be noted.

The Register's function as the core mechanism for treaty-based transparency and confidence-building has been reinforced by the impact of the 2007 General Assembly resolution on registration practice (resolution 62/101) where we note that an increasing number of States and intergovernmental organizations are reviewing their registration practices and are making efforts to harmonize them, while new and prospective space nations are actively considering the issue of space object registration.

The Office would like to encourage all Member States that have launched and/or operate space objects to register them with the Secretary-General in accordance with the 1976 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 we are pleased that the Register continues to enhance confidence among space actors by providing transparency through its mechanisms.

This is particularly important in the context of General Assembly resolution 68/50 on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities. In this overall context, I wish to inform the Committee that the Office will attend as observer the upcoming multilateral meeting on an international code of conduct for outer space activities to be held in New York on 27 to 31 July this year.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

Building capacity in the use of space science and technology in developing countries, raising awareness of socio-economic benefits of space technology applications at the national, regional, and international levels, fostering institutional capacities in managing disaster risk reduction, and promoting capacity-building in space law and policy to meet the need for strengthened capacities of all countries in developing their national space activities are among the core activities of the Office. Capacity-building is one of the core pillars of the 2018 UNISPACE+50 initiative, and the Office is committed to work towards this aim in all its activities.

A separate statement will be delivered by the United Nations Expert on Space Application updating the Committee on the activities being carried out under the United Nations Programme on Space Applications.

With respect to the UN-SPIDER programme, we are thankful to the Governments of Austria, China and Germany for their commitment to the programme since its inception. We would like to invite interested Member States to consider the provision of necessary resources as voluntary contributions and/or as concrete collaboration and partnership offers, in order to enable the programme to respond to the growing demand for support in disaster risk reduction and emergency response. We are particularly proud that the Knowledge Portal of UN-SPIDER continues to assist Member States in emergency situations, including in the recent earthquakes in Nepal, India, Bangladesh and China. 

In this context, the Office has been leading the coordination of a group of partners involved in space, satellite technology and other Earth observation technologies in preparation for the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) that took place in Sendai, Japan in March earlier this year, to ensure to space-based applications the visibility they deserve. In a follow up to Sendai, a joint United Nations/Germany International Conference on Earth Observation - Global solutions for the challenges of sustainable development in societies at risk (Bonn Conference) was co-organised with DLR and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on 26-28 May in Bonn to discuss ways and means of institutionalizing the use of space-based information in national plans and regional and global platforms, and to review international space cooperation mechanisms to foster national implementation of the post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG), and it is a pleasure to witness the progress made through ICG and its Providers' Forum. The Ninth Meeting of the ICG and the thirteenth meeting of the Providers' Forum have been organized by the European Commission and the European GNSS Agency (GSA) on behalf of the European Union from 10 to 14 November 2014 in Prague, Czech Republic. I am pleased to inform that the tenth meeting of ICG would be organized by the United States in Boulder, Colorado, from 1 to 6 November this year, and interest to host the eleventh Meeting of ICG in 2016 was expressed by the Russian Federation.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

I would now turn to some further aspects of importance involving coordination among United Nations system entities.

As part of the Bonn Conference, the Office has organized, on 28 May, a joint UN-Space - Bonn conference high-level panel on space-based information for development. The 35 th session of the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities was held with participation of United Nations entities on 27 May. I will make a more detailed statement under the item on the use of space technology in the United Nations system during the course of the session. Meanwhile, it is a pleasure to me to inform you that the UN-Space special report on Space for global health has been prepared and made available to delegations at this session as document A/AC.105/1091.

In the area of global health, the Office is continuing its cooperation with WHO. As a follow-up to the Expert Meeting on the International Space Station Benefits for Health held in 2014, a Meeting of the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) on Applications of Space Science and Technical for Public Health will be held on 15-16 June 2015 in Geneva to further cooperation between the public health and the space communities.

I am also pleased to inform that a joint ICAO/UNOOSA Aerospace Symposium on the theme "Emerging space activities and civil aviation - challenges and opportunities" was organized in Montréal, Canada from 18 to 20 March 2015, and brought together for the first time 350 participants representing both aviation and space communities from around the globe. This Symposium strengthened the dialogue between the relevant legal and regulatory actors on the challenges and opportunities related to commercial space transportation development, and agreed, inter alia, that follow-up Symposia will be held in the United Arab Emirates in 2016 and in Vienna in 2017.

In the overall context of the bilateral inter-agency cooperation and coordination, it is a pleasure for me to inform delegations that an information handout on issues related to registration, authorization, debris mitigation and frequency management with respect to small and very small satellites, has been jointly developed by the Office for Outer Space Affairs and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The publication is made available on the website of the Office for Outer Space Affairs.

I am pleased to see that these bilateral inter-agency achievements on subject matters of utmost importance to the space community are successfully set in motion, in line with the overarching mandate of the Office to lead the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities (UN-Space).

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

With the effect from the beginning of 2014, the level of the Office's human resources have been reduced. It is of great concern to the Office that the human resources shortfall will limit the number of activities to be implemented and affect our ability to develop new initiatives and meet emerging needs of Member States in a timely and adequate manner.

I call on Member States to consider enhancing the resource framework of the Office by supplementing our regular budget with extra-budgetary resources. Every contribution is important to us. It is particularly so, because without an express mandate from the Committee, the Office is unable to seek additional resources from the regular budget. I trust that I can count on your continued support as we explore existing and new opportunities to strengthen the Office.

I am pleased to express our sincere appreciation to our donors in the past year. I hope you are able to appreciate the pivotal role that voluntary contributions, both cash and in-kind, play in our ability to support Member States in their effort to build capacity. The bulk of the activities conducted under framework of the ICG and UN-SPIDER are funded from voluntary contributions and a significant portion of the resources provided for the activities of the Programme on Space Applications is provided in-kind by the host Governments and institutions of those activities. I invite you to read the reports you'll have before you on the related activities. More details on the level of extra-budgetary resources received and our donors in 2014 are contained in the annex to this statement.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

Let me reiterate our Office's commitment to dedicating our energy and resources in carrying out the mandate of the Office and to serving the interests of Member States in the area of peaceful uses of outer space. At this critical time, international community strives to define the development frameworks in the areas related to disaster management, climate change, sustainable and global development agenda, and we - the Committee, its subsidiary bodies and the Office - have together a unique opportunity to mobilize support and commitment at the global level for increasing recognition for the role of space science and technology for achieving the global objectives.

In this context, I am convinced that active involvement of all delegations in the work of the Committee and its subsidiary bodies is a key element for success. In order to provide regular and updated information to Member States of the United Nations, I intend to institute a new procedure whereby a special briefing by the Director of the Office for Outer Space Affairs is organized for Heads of Permanent Missions in Vienna in the fall of each year for the purpose of updating member States on the preparations of the sessions of STSC, LSC and COPUOS in the following year, as well as on activities of the Office. For this year I intend to call for a first meeting in September where I and my colleagues will inform Member States on, inter alia, the Office's new multi-years multi-donors strategic initiative we are setting in motion for the necessary long-term resource planning.

In concluding, I am proud to announce that the Office has, just this week, launched its new website. With easier navigation, improved access to information, and multimedia additions, this new website has been designed to better serve the Member States of COPUOS and to raise awareness of the work of the  Office. This structural and design upgrade has been managed by an internal Web Development Team who work closely with the Information Technology Services Section in UNOV. The website upgrade reflects committed efforts to promote the benefits of space for humankind. I would like to invite you all to watch a brief video we have made about the new website. Before doing so, I would also like to inform you that we have set up a computer station just outside of this conference room, beside the documentation counter, where our staff will be happy to guide you through the new UNOOSA website and its various databases. 

Thank you for your attention.



The following staff movements took place in the Office since the Subcommittee met last year.

Within the Office, Ms. Sinead Harvey (Ireland) and Mr. Robert Wickramatunga (United Kingdom) moved from the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section to the Office of the Director. This move accommodates the cross-cutting nature of the public outreach and communications functions, as well as reflects the growing importance the Office attaches to the United Nations Register of Space Objects launched into Outer Space. Mr. Markus Woltran (Austria) has assumed temporary responsibilities as an Associate Programme Officer at the Office of the Director.

In the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section, Mr. Michael Newman (United States) has recently been recruited to the post of Legal Officer. In January 2015, Ms. Romana Kofler (Slovenia) assumed larger responsibilities at a post of Programme Officer. In September 2014, Ms. Heli Pahlman (Finland) moved to a post within the Department of Field Support's Conduct and Discipline Unit. Ms. Tanya Keusen (Canada), who previously served in the Department of Field Support, transferred to the post previously occupied by Ms. Pahlman.

In the Space Applications Section, Mr. Werner Balogh (Austria) has assumed larger responsibilities as a Programme Officer in the section, and recruitment for the post, previously occupied by Mr. Balogh, is in progress. Ms. Sonia Beharovic (United States) departed the Office for a temporary assignment at the at the Department of Public Information in New York, and that post is being temporary filled by Daniel Garcia Yarnoz (Spain). The Office had to wish farewell to Mr. Sergei Chernikov (Russian Federation) and Ms. Ayoni Oyeneyin (Nigeria) on their retirement after dedicated years of long service for the United Nations. At the end of January 2015 the Office had to wish farewell to Mr. Peter Stumpf (Germany), who has assured the development and functioning of the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal over the last years. The Office also had to wish farewell to Ms. Mika Ochai (Japan) and Mr. Aimin Niu (China), both experts on a non-reimbursable loan (NRL). At the same time, the Office welcomed Mr. Myoshi Takanori (Japan) and Mr. Joachim Post (Germany) as NRL experts in the Vienna Headquarters and the UN-SPIDER Bonn Office, respectively. Mr. Ahmed Osman (Austria) and Mr. Christopher Sto Domingo (Philippines) assumed responsibilities at the posts of staff assistant and team assistant, respectively.


The necessity for the timely conclusion of an agreement/exchange of letters prior 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 is 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. In this connection, Member States are urged to be mindful that an Agreement with standard UN clauses should be 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 have been established, non-compliance could result in a postponement or cancellation of the event.


The Office's resources, particularly vis-a-vis, adequate human resources, remains a critical issue. The most significant impact of General Assembly resolution 67/248 of 24 December 2012 was the loss of a P4 post in the Space Applications Section. The Office was able to mitigate the immediate impact in 2014 by hiring, for a few months, a person with the necessary education and experience to support the delivery of the activities planned. The funds that enabled this recovery action have now been exhausted and failing the availability of extra-budgetary resources for this purpose, the Office will not be able to do the same in 2015. As you will hear from the Expert on Space Applications, the number of activities in 2015 is extensive, including 2 workshops that were postponed to 2015 for a variety of reasons. The full programme is placing an extra-ordinary burden on the Programme on Space Applications current staff and is not sustainable in the long term.

Apart from the fact that the number of activities the Programme can implement in a single year will have to be reduced as of 2016, the most pressing concern, is the possibility that the Office might be forced to postpone and/or cancel as much as 2 workshops in 2015 should there be unanticipated staff movements within the Programme in the coming months.

With respect to the Programme Budget of the Office for the biennium 2016-2017, the Office has been instructed to reduce its budget by a further $58,000. This further cut will impact on the ability of the Office to be represented at major UN Conferences and important Space-related meetings. The Office will no longer be in a position to accept participation in such activities unless the costs can be covered by the organizers of those events or through extra-budgetary resources. The cut will also force the Office to reduce the number of participants to be funded from regular budget resources to the capacity building activities we will conduct in 2016-2017.

Regular Budget Resources overview:                                                   Thousands of United States dollars







(as per A/RES/68/248)



8 592.0

8 305.5

8 160.6

8 102.4

Extra-budgetary Resources                                                                Thousands of United States dollars




Cash contributions (excl. prior period adjustments)

1 130.0

Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO); Austrian Academy of Sciences; Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology; Austrospace; Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education (CICESE); China Manned Space Agency (CMSA); China National Space Administration (CNSA); City of Graz and State of Styria, Austria; COSPAR; ESA; European Commission; European GNSS Agency (GSA); German Aerospace Center (DLR); Government of China; Government of Germany; Government of Japan; Government of USA; Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Secretariat; IAF; Inter-Islamic Network on Space Science and Technology (ISNET); Istituto Superiore Mario Boella (ISMB), Italy; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); Joanneum Research, Austria; King Saud University, Riyadh; Mexican Space Agency (AEM); NOAA, USA; Politecnico di Torino, Italy; Prince Sultan Institute for Environmental, Water & Desert Research; PSIPW General Secretariat; Royal Center for Remote Sensing (CRTS), Rabat; ZARM FAB mbH, Bremen, Germany

In-kind Contributions* (Assessed at)

1 015.0

* Includes the assessed value of the salaries for staff providing services to the Office under the Associate Expert Programme and Non-reimbursable loan framework.


Within the framework of the Programme on Space Applications, activities in the year 2014 were aimed at building capacity in the use of space science and technology in developing countries, as well as to raising awareness of socio-economic benefits of space technology applications at the national, regional, and international levels. Basic space science, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), human space technology, small satellites, space law, and the use of space technology for natural resources management and environmental monitoring were among the many areas focused upon by the Programme in the past year.

Since the last session of the Committee in 2014, the UN-SPIDER programme provided technical advisory missions to five countries; delivered trainings at a national level in four countries and organized expert meetings and conferences for the global community in four countries; the network of Regional Support Offices is expected to received 2 new members in 2015, bringing the network to 18. The Knowledge Portal of UN-SPIDER is constantly improved and has very recently received a face-lift that we invite you to appreciate; note that it now has Spanish and French versions.

The General Assembly resolution 61/110, which established the UN-SPIDER Programme, stated that the programme should be supported through voluntary contributions. We are thankful to the Governments of China and Germany for their commitment to the Programme which provides the office today with funding to continue implement an even larger number of activities until the end of 2017. We would like to invite interested Member States to consider the provision of necessary resources as voluntary contributions and/or as concrete collaboration and partnership offers, in order to enable the programme to respond to the growing demand for support in disaster risk reduction and emergency response.

In 2014, the thirty-fourth session of UN-Space was held from 13 to 14 May in New York. The session was organized back-to-back with the 14th meeting of the United Nations Geographical Information Working Group (UNGIWG), a network of United Nations professionals working in the fields of cartography and geographic information science. A joint UN-Space - UNGIWG meeting was held in the afternoon of 14 May 2014. At its session, UN-Space decided to focus its upcoming special report on the theme of space and global health.


In order to promote adherence to the five United Nations treaties on outer space and to assist States in building their capacity in space law, the Office for Outer Space Affairs, together with the Government of China, the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) and the China National Space Administration (CNSA), organized the Workshop on Space Law on the Role of National Space Legislation in Strengthening the Rule of Law, hosted by CNSA and held in Beijing from 17 to 20 November 2014. The report of the Workshop is contained in document A/AC.105/1089.

The Office continues to update its space law dedicated web pages. The web pages provide 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.

Other improvements of sections relevant to the work of the Legal Subcommittee include the establishment of a dedicated webpage hosting the Compendium of space debris mitigation standards adopted by States and international organizations and the updates to the special page with the comprehensive collection of documents relating to the item on the definition and delimitation of outer space. The Office continues to add documents to the webpage on the "United Nations Treaties and Principles on Outer Space: Travaux Préparatoires".

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"; 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.


World Space Week

A UN-declared celebration since 1999, in 2014 World Space Week, under the leadership of the World Space Week Association, celebrated with over 1,400 events in 80 countries. Under the title "Space: Guiding your way", the successful global outreach and education campaign celebrated the link between space and society. The Office looks forward to celebrating this year's World Space Week in October on the theme of "Discovery".

International Day of Human Space Flight

On 12 April 2015, the International Day of Human Space Flight declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011, was celebrated globally. The Office marked the event with the official launch of the fourth edition in our series of "Messages from Space Explorers to future generations".



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