Press Releases

    28 October 1999

    Gap Between Rapid Outer Space Advances, Needs of Developing Countries Stressed by Speakers in Fourth Committee Debate

    NEW YORK, 27 October (UN Headquarters) -- Despite breathtaking advances and discoveries in outer space, the developing countries could hardly meet their immediate needs, much less their aspirations and expectations, the representative of Indonesia said this morning, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

    For that reason, he attached paramount importance to the role of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which should translate international cooperation into meaningful programmes on the regional, subregional and national levels.

    Several speakers stressed that the Outer Space Committee’s unique role in offering the international community a forum exclusively focused on promoting the benefits of space exploration. The representative of Cuba, for example, called for the strengthening of its Technical and Legal Subcommittees and defended the developing countries’ legitimate interest in expanding the Committee’s membership. He said that the practice of sharing the rotating posts should be suppressed and all members subject to rotation should become members of the Committee with full rights.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said that the growing number of participants in space activities and the commercialization of those activities required the development of equal, fair and mutually beneficial cooperation in space. The outcome of the Third United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) had contributed to that end. It was necessary to modernize existing international space law to ensure a balance between commercial objectives and protection of the space environment. Bilateral and regional practices in outer space cooperation should be reviewed and placed on a solid basis.

    The representative of the United States praised the organization of UNISPACE III, saying it should serve as a model for other such conferences in the future. The event had produced recommendations and conclusions that supported the overall objectives, including identification of new areas and support for existing mechanisms of international cooperation.

    Also speaking in today’s debate were the representatives of Egypt, Romania, Libya, Chile (on behalf of MERCOSUR and associated countries), Syria, Malaysia and Yemen. The Fourth Committee will conclude its consideration of outer space issues at a date to be announced.

    Committee Work Programme

    The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

    Before the Committee were the report of the Committee on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (document A/54/20) and the report of the Third United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) (document A/CONF.184/6). Also before the Committee was a letter (document A/C.4/54/8) from the Permanent Representative of Georgia to the United Nations, transmitting an information note from that country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on new developments in the telecommunications field.

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    NOTE: A summary of the statements made can be provided upon specific request.
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