Sixty-first session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS)

Vienna, 20-29 June 2018





25 June 2018


Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

On behalf of the Office for Outer Space Affairs, I thank you for the opportunity to address this session on the work of the Office.

Madam Chair, it is a great pleasure for me to see you chairing this session of the Committee. I am confident that the Committee will continue to achieve major accomplishments, under your and your two Vice-Chair's guidance. I would like to assure you all of the support of the Office in making this session a success.

I likewise join you, Madam Chair, in welcoming Bahrain, Denmark and Norway as new State members, and the European Science Foundation (ESF), represented by the European Space Sciences Committee, and UNISEC-Global as new permanent observers of the Committee. We have also received applications for membership by five more States, and for permanent observer status from three more organizations. It is encouraging to see the Committee's membership growing so consistently. Such positive developments are a tangible illustration of the heightened interest the international community is placing in the work of both COPUOS and the Office.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

We have just successfully celebrated UNISPACE+50. In addition to the high-level segment held at the beginning of this session, I take this opportunity to briefly summarize some of the highlights of the UNISPACE+50 Symposium.

Experts from the entire spectrum of the space sector addressed the role of space science and technology in fostering global development and cooperation from various perspectives and subjects. The symposium benefitted from the participation of more than four hundred participants from government agencies, space agencies, private companies, universities research centres and civil society.

The symposium benefitted from special session on 'Past, Present and Future of Outer Space Activities' and was followed by dedicated panel sessions on 'Space and Industry', 'Space for Women' including a Special Advanced Screening of 'Madam Mars: Women and the quest for the worlds beyond', 'Space for Civil Society' and 'Space for Youth'. The diversity of the panels highlighted the actual pace the space arena is currently developing and the importance for the international community to stand together to address the future challenges in outer space and underlined the importance for the United Nations to stand at the forefront of the actual developments.

In his keynote address, Scott Kelly, the United Nations Champion for Space, highlighted the necessity for global teamwork to make the dream work and underlined the importance of Space in reaching towards the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda. The two days symposium concluded with a historic gathering of Heads of Space Agencies in the Panel held on 19 June. Twenty-nine national and regional Space Agencies participated and underscored the broad global interest to contribute towards the Space2030 Agenda.

We have also enjoyed a wonderful space exhibition, which concluded with a public open day on Saturday, 23 June. We benefitted from a number of other side events and activities, successfully signed five Memoranda of Understanding, one Declaration of Cooperation, one Declaration of Intent, signed one Joint Statement and received five donations of models for our permanent exhibition and a flag flown in space.

Finally, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone that has worked tireless with us to make this event successful, in particular to the staff of my Office for their hard work over a long period.

This brings me to the UNISPACE+50 high-level segment. On Wednesday, 20 June, the Committee endorsed and recommended for action by the General Assembly in October this year, the draft resolution, therewith setting in motion the next phase of the overall UNISPACE+50 endeavour. Our joint commitment to form a "Space2030" agenda and implementation plan will highly influence the upcoming work of the Committee and its Subcommittees for the years to come. It is hoped that, once agreed, the "Space2030" agenda will result in a step change in our collective efforts to make space science and technology a driver of sustainable development.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

As the Committee begins its work towards "Space2030" it is important to continue providing a mechanism for the collective space community to elaborate recommendations for the overall UNISPACE+50 blueprint. The High Level Forum on space as a driver for socioeconomic sustainable development, organized in collaboration with the Government of the United Arab Emirates in 2016 and 2017 in the context of the preparations for UNISPACE+50, will continue to serve as platform for that engagement.

This year the Forum will be co-organized with Germany and co-sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), and held in Bonn, Germany, on 13-16 November, and will focus on the road towards the "Space2030" agenda. This will be another opportunity to assemble the broader space community at this historical juncture of global governance of outer space activities. Allow me, Madam Chair, to really thank Germany and the German Aerospace Centre DLR for their support.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

It is a fact that our Committee is the only intergovernmental platform at the global level with a broad and comprehensive mandate in the area of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. This also reflects the mandates and programmes of the Office for Outer Space Affairs, which consequently is the only United Nations entity covering the broadest perspective possible of space science, technology, law and policy dimensions.

I am, therefore, pleased to bring to your attention the Office's Annual Report on its activities throughout 2017 which was distributed last week. This publication provides a broad overview of the wide range of initiatives implemented and actions taken by the Office. It brings attention to activities carried out in the preparations for UNISPACE+50, in meeting the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in fulfilling mandates received by the General Assembly under the Office's core roles and responsibilities.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

In this context please also note that Member States have consistently renewed and reaffirmed the mandate on gender equality and women's empowerment in intergovernmental agreements. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has provided additional momentum and clear targets. One of the many responses from the United Nations to international commitments has been the adoption of the UN System Wide Policy on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Additionally, through my role as gender champion I am committed to further promote this important topic and to progress on gender empowerment and gender equality not only within the UN, but more in general in the space sector - our joint focus on space for women and space and youth are important cross-cutting efforts in this regard - and span over the broader space agenda. States members are invited to approach the Office on developing further joint initiatives in this area.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

Last year, the Committee and its Subcommittees marked an important anniversary, namely the fiftieth anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty, and I'm pleased to note that the General Assembly adopted resolution 72/78 containing the Declaration on the fiftieth anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty.

The Declaration not only reiterates the role of the Treaty as the cornerstone of the international legal regime governing outer space activities, but also reaffirms a distinguished historical record that the Committee, together with its Legal Subcommittee and Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, has in the establishment and further development of the international legal regime governing outer space activities.

In this regard, 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 on Objects Launched into Outer Space continues to enhance confidence among space actors by providing transparency through its mechanisms. 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 62/101 on registration practice.

The Office believes that given the increasing satellite population in low Earth orbit, the intent behind space object registration, as stated in the Preamble of the Convention, i.e. "Believing that a mandatory system of registering objects launched into outer space would, in particular, assist in their identification and would contribute to the application and development of international law governing the exploration and use of outer space," is now even more relevant today.

The Office therefore invites States that have not done so to register their space objects with the Secretary-General. The Office stands ready to provide any assistance required. The Office's 2017 Annual Report, which I referred to earlier, also contains detailed information on forty years of mandatory space object registration with the United Nations Secretary-General.

 Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

In the annex to my statement to you today, which you will receive in writing, you will also find a list of the main activities we've implemented in the first 6 months of 2018 as well as those being planned for the remaining half of the year.

Presently the Office's ability to fulfil the requests received from Member States for support, including for technical and institutional assistance, is limited, and given the existing constraints of the regular budget, it is imperative that the Office is able to secure, in the long-term, its resource framework. At this juncture I would like to express our sincere appreciation for all the support the Office is already receiving. Over and above the funding that is being provided for implementing numerous activities, OOSA's manpower is being supplemented, through cash and in-kind contributions. At present more than 30% of our staff are being provided through the contributions made by the Governments of Austria, China, Germany, Japan, Turkey, and by PSIPW (Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water). In the coming months we expect to receive three more staff, namely 1 position being funded by the Government of the United States of America and the European Union for ICG, 1 additional staff member on non-reimbursable loan basis, funded by the Government of Germany and further, a Junior Professional Officer funded by the Government of Italy, bring the total number of staff funded through means other than the regular budget to 15 out of a total of 38.

Accordingly, I wish to call upon more States members and permanent observers of the Committee to continue engaging with the Office on providing additional voluntary in-kind support and extra-budgetary funding. With additional means, we will be better equipped to respond much more, and in a sustainable manner. In this regard, the Office is also pursuing, as appropriate, engagement and partnerships with private sector entities as a further resource avenue.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

We are indeed building a foundation that will help define the role of space activities in both addressing overarching long-term development concerns and contributing to global efforts towards achieving the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Those goals also coincide with the Secretary-General's system-wide efforts to engage with Member States to strengthen the work of the United Nations, overcome silos and deliver as one. Space is a vital part of the so-called "new frontier" issues that the Secretary-General is bringing forward in these priorities. The "Space2030" agenda will be instrumental in this regard.

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

The Office stands ready to continue supporting the Committee in the undertaking to jointly develop a comprehensive space agenda towards 2030 and beyond. The overall UNISPACE+50 process, including the road towards "Space2030", is an avenue to build synergies between space science, technology, law and policy in fostering global governance and in particular for the benefit of developing countries, and to match the needs of States in their fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Office for Outer Space Affairs, as a vital component of the United Nations Secretariat, is working with concerned United Nations entities to find synergies and avoid fragmentation within the United Nations System as a whole.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Copyright ©2023 UNOOSA, All Rights Reserved