Press Releases

    Round-up of session

    17 June 2002


    Discusses Ways and Means of Maintaining
    Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes

    VIENNA, 17 June (UN Information Service) – Implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III), and activities of the International Satellite System for Search and Rescue (COSPAS-SARSAT) were among the topics discussed at the forty-fifth session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). The Committee also discussed a new agenda item on Space and Society, and the reports of the sessions of its two Subcommittees: the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee on its thirty-ninth session and the Legal Subcommittee on its forty-first session.

    UNISPACE III + 5 Review Conference

    The Committee established a Working Group to prepare a report to the General Assembly on the implementation of the UNISPACE III recommendations. The Working Group agreed that the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and its Working Group of the Whole, as well as the Legal Subcommittee should contribute to the report.

    The General Assembly will conduct a "five-year" review of UNISPACE III and consider further actions and initiatives based on this review at its fifty-ninth session in 2004. In order to prepare for this review, the Committee was asked to submit recommendations on the format, scope and organisational aspects of the review for consideration by the General Assembly in 2002.

    In order to prepare the report to the General Assembly, the Working Group agreed to assess the progress made in the implementation of UNISPACE III recommendations. The Working Group will identify and evaluate areas where action was needed to create the necessary conditions to carry out space activities through cooperation at the regional and international level to enhance economic, social and cultural development. It will consider further actions to be undertaken on the basis of recommendations made by action teams established by the Committee at its forty-forth session to implement the recommendations as well as identify concrete actions that could be undertaken after the review by the General Assembly. The Working Group will also identify any UNISPACE III recommendations, which had not been implemented.

    The United Nations Space Applications Programme was established in 1971 by the General Assembly, with a mandate to assist nations in using space technology for economic, social and cultural development. UNISPACE III was held in Vienna from 19 to 30 July 1999, and it has identified specific areas and actions through which space science and technology can help solve common problems on both the regional and global level.

    Among UNISPACE III recommendations were the following: remote sensing for protecting the environment, facilitating and utilising communications, improving and using positioning and location capabilities, furthering knowledge and building capacity, enhancing education and training opportunities for youth, information technology needs and the global approach, spin-offs and commercial benefits from space activities: promoting technology development and exchange, and promoting international cooperation.

    Statement to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg,
    26 August - 4 September 2002

    The Committee reviewed and refined the text prepared by the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee to be delivered at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September 2002. The Subcommittee recommended that a statement from the Committee to the Summit would highlight how space applications could contribute to promoting sustainable development.

    Space science and technology provide continuous and long-term monitoring of the environment and natural resources, needed to respond to the increasing demand for food, water, shelter, sanitation, energy, education, health services and economic security. Satellites provide valuable information for better weather forecasting, climate predictions, various predictions related to agriculture and management of land and water recourses. Space technology is also a potent tool for gathering and distributing of information, which is an essential element of development in any country.

    COSPAS-SARSAT System Overview

    The Committee recognised the extraordinary success of COSPAS-SARSAT during its 20 years of service to the global community. COSPAS-SARSAT is a satellite system designed to provide distress alert and location data to assist search and rescue (SAR) operations, using spacecraft and ground facilities to detect and locate the signals of distress beacons. The system offers support to all organisations in the world with responsibility for SAR operations, whether at sea, in the air or on land.

    Operational use of COSPAS-SARSAT by SAR agencies started with the crash of a light aircraft in Canada, in which three people were rescued (September 9, 1982). Since then, the system has been used for hundreds of SAR events and has been responsible for the saving of thousands of lives worldwide. From September 1982 to the end of December 2000, the COSPAS-SARSAT system provided assistance in rescuing 12,747 persons in 3,747 SAR events.

    As from this year, the Committee will receive a report on the activities of the International Satellite System for Search and Rescue (COSPAS-SARSAT) on an annual basis.

    Fourth Space Conference of the Americas

    The Committee noted that the Fourth Space Conference of the Americas, which took place in Cartagena de Indias in Colombia from 14-17 May 2002, adopted the Declaration of Cartagena de Indias and the Plan of Action of the Fourth Space Conference of the Americas. The conference discussed mechanisms for cooperation and coordination between countries in the region in various areas of space science and technology, with respect to their applications in areas such as disaster management, tele-education, tele-medicine and public health and environmental protection and in fields such as space law and telecommunications.

    Space and Society

    The Committee looked at the many ways in which space has affected our human society. Space technology is now an important part of daily life around the world, in fields like environmental protection, disaster management, agriculture and navigation. Communication satellites have been an important part of the information revolution, making possible applications like tele-health and tele-education, and helping to transmit information accessed over the Internet. The history of space exploration, as well as fields like astronomy has helped change our outlook, and are an important theme in the arts. The Committee noted that World Space Week, observed each year from 4 to 10 October was a good opportunity to raise awareness about space, in particular among young people.

    Review of the Concept of the "Launching State"

    The Committee considered the report of the Legal Subcommittee, including recommendations on the concept of the "launching State" adopted by the Legal Subcommittee Working Group at its forty-first session from 2-12 April 2002, following a three-year work plan. The Subcommittee endorsed all the conclusions of the working group on this issue.

    Observer Status

    The Committee decided to grant permanent observer status to two international non-governmental entities, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and Spaceweek International Association (SIA).


    The Committee consists of the following members:

    Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam.

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