Fifty-fourth session of the Legal Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

Vienna, 13-24 April 2015

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

On behalf of the Office for Outer Space Affairs, I warmly welcome you all to the fifty-fourth session of this Subcommittee. I would like to express our pleasure, Mr. Chairman, at having you chairing the session again and would like to convey our commitment to assisting you in making this session a success.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

The Registration Convention was adopted on 12 November 1974, opened for signature on 14 January 1975, and entered into force on 15 September 1976. In this perspective we can proudly commemorate the 40 th anniversary of this important treaty.  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.  In fact, the Office is mandated since four decades to maintain the central United Nations Register on Objects Launched into Outer Space, under the obligation of the Registration Convention.

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 who have launched and/or operate space objects to register them in accordance with the Registration Convention or General Assembly resolution 1721 B (XVI).

With regard to the Registration Convention and Assembly resolution 1721 (XVI) B, since our session last year, the Office is pleased to report that Argentina, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, Nigeria, Norway, Russian Federation, 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 Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Italy have transmitted notifications of the establishment of their national registries. The Office would like to invite States Parties that have not done so to inform the Secretary-General accordingly.

The Office is deeply committed to discharging the Secretary-General's responsibilities under international space law in the most effective and efficient manner and is pleased that the Register continues, now for forty years, 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, and in view of the following:

- first, the agreement of the Committee at its fifty-seventh session last year on the importance of considering the broader perspective of space security and associated matters that would be instrumental in ensuring the safe and responsible conduct of space activities;

- and, second,  the decision of the Committee to consider, at its upcoming session in 2015, the recommendations of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities (A/68/189) as they relate to safety of space operations and the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

The Office would like to take this opportunity to express its appreciation to States of registry for their assistance and cooperation in resolving issues related to registration submissions and welcomes any feedback on improving the process. Over the coming year, the Office will continue its dialogue with Member States and international intergovernmental organizations on these issues and stands ready to provide assistance to existing and prospective States of registry on these matters.

With regard to implementing the other obligations of the Secretary-General, the Office received and disseminated information provided by Brazil under Article V of the Rescue Agreement on the recovery of a space object within its territory as well as information provided by the United Kingdom under Article XI of the Outer Space Treaty.

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 re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

In this overall context of  the application and implementation of the legal regime on outer space,  I am pleased to inform delegations that, in accordance with the request by the Subcommittee at its fifty-third session in 2014, 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. A conference room paper has also been prepared for the benefit of delegations.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

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 Workshop, among other things, addressed the rule of law and global governance of space activities; the development of space policy, transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities; perspectives on space-traffic management; space law and commercial space activities, including the operation of small and very small satellites; and national space legislation of both major spacefaring nations and emerging space nations. The Workshop also addressed mechanisms for regional and interregional cooperation, including intergovernmental organizations, discussed role of bilateral and multilateral agreements in joint space ventures, considered capacity-building in and the teaching of space law, and examined the United Nations curriculum on space law.

The Workshop concluded with a session dedicated to regulatory and institutional aspects of the use of space-derived data and information, with an emphasis on remote sensing and global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). The Beijing office of the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) was involved in the planning and completion of that dedicated session, specifically, in order to provide a link between scientific, technical, administrative, institutional, legal and policy considerations. Delegations have before them the report of the Workshop in document A/AC.105/1089.  The proceedings of the Workshop with presentations are available on the website of the Office as an on-line publication.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

The General Assembly, in its resolution 69/85, operative paragraph 6, noted with satisfaction the conclusion by the Office for Outer Space Affairs of a space law curriculum, which could encourage further studies within States. In this regard I would like to inform delegations that the Curriculum, available on the website of the Office, is presently being translated into all official languages of the United Nations and the all language versions will be made available on that dedicated webpage before the fifty-eighth session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in June this year.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

The reduction of the level of the Office's human resources, which took effect at the beginning of 2014, is of great concern. In the absence of the Office being able to secure extra-budgetary resources which we can use to supplement the human resources shortfall we are currently experiencing, the Office will limit the number of activities to be implemented. The other consequence of limited human resources is our inability to develop new initiatives and meet emerging needs in a timely and adequate manner. 

To redress this situation I and other colleagues will continue our discussions with many of you regarding enhancing the resource framework of the Office. Every contribution is important to us, and even more so in face of the current economic situation and the prohibition on the Office to seek additional resources from the regular budget without an express mandate from the Committee. I trust that I can count on your continued support as we explore existing and new opportunities to strengthen the Office.

In the annex to this statement, which will be provided in writing to delegations in the coming days, there is more information on financial and administrative matters.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

I will now proceed by mentioning selected activities of interest to the Subcommittee.

Firstly, I am pleased to inform the Subcommittee that a joint ICAO/UNOOSA Aerospace Symposium on the theme "Emerging space activities and civil aviation - challenges and opportunities" was organized at the ICAO Headquarters 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 landmark event succeeded in strengthening the dialogue between the relevant legal and regulatory actors and in enhancing the common understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to commercial space transportation development, as well as provided possible ideas on how to address them. The Symposium agreed on a series of follow-up activities, including follow-up Symposiums to be held in the United Arab Emirates in 2016 and in Vienna in 2017. As UNOOSA is mandated to lead the Inter- Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities (UN-Space), which is the central inter-agency coordination mechanisms in the UN system on overarching space matters, I am pleased to see that this bilateral cooperation and coordination achievement with ICAO on subject matters of utmost relevance to the space and aviation communities is successfully set in motion.

Secondly, in a follow-up on the outcomes of the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, a joint UNOOSA/Germany Conference will be co-organized with DLR on 26-28 May in Bonn. The Conference will aim at ways and means of institutionalizing the use of space-based information in national plans and regional and global platforms, and discuss international space cooperation mechanisms to foster national implementation of the post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework. As part of the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities, the Office will organize a joint UN-Space - Bonn conference high-level panel on space-based information for development on 28 May, as part of the Conference.

Thirdly, it is my pleasure to inform the Subcommittee that in connection with the 66th International Astronautical Congress to be held in Jerusalem, Israel, the United Nations/International Astronautical Federation Workshop on Space Technology for Socio-Economic Benefits will be held from 9 to 11 October 2015. Traditionally, the Workshop addresses space technologies and applications that contribute to sustainable economic and social development. This year the Workshop will focus on fresh water resources management.

Finally, the year will culminate in one of the key milestone activities of the Office:  The United Nations/United Arab Emirates High-level Forum entitled "Space as a driver for socio-economic sustainable development". The Forum will held on 15-17 November 2015 in Dubai, UAE, with the objective of advancing cooperation in the area of peaceful uses of outer space to a new level. The Forum will be structured along four policy pillars, namely: space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy, and will serve as a platform to promote space science and technology as universal tools with transformative power and catalytic potential in attaining the objectives of the global development agenda beyond 2015. I encourage you to benefit from the participation in the Forum and contribute to increasing global awareness of the role of outer space for development.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

Speaking of milestones, delegations that attended the fifty-second session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee in February this year will recall that a note by the past, present and in-coming Chairs of the Committee, entitled "2018 'UNISPACE+50' theme of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, the Legal Subcommittee and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space" was considered by the Working Group of the Whole of the Subcommittee, and the recommendations of the WGW were endorsed by the Subcommittee. The note is also being distributed at the present session of the Legal Subcommittee for consideration.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

In concluding, 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 space law.

Thank you very much for your attention.



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