Press Releases

    2 June 2004

    United Nations General Assembly President Addresses Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

    Contribution of UN’s Outer Space Activities to Sustainable Development and Importance of Space-based Solutions for Disaster Management Emphasized

    VIENNA, 2 June (UN Information Service) -- Julian Robert Hunte, President of the fifty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly, addressed the opening meeting of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) in Vienna today. The key item on the agenda of the COPUOS meeting will be finalizing the preparations for the General Assembly’s review of the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) in October 2004.

    Mr. Hunte said that the General Assembly was looking forward to receiving the COPUOS report in October and welcomed the decision of COPUOS to include in its report synergies between the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III and the implementation of the commitments made in the United Nations Millennium Declaration and outcome documents of the World Summits for Sustainable Development and on the Information Society in its report. He underlined that such an approach fosters cooperation and consensus in addressing development objectives, and meeting internationally agreed-upon development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

    Noting the unique and vital responsibility of COPUOS in highlighting the role that space science and technology can play in assisting the United Nations in achieving its economic and social development goals, Mr. Hunte underlined that one of the most important achievements of COPUOS has been the establishment of regional centres for space science and technology education, affiliated with the United Nations. These centres help develop and strengthen the skills and knowledge of university educators, and research and application scientists in the areas of space science and technology. As such, the centres contribute to sustainable development in those countries and regions.

    Mr. Hunte drew attention to the growing role that space-based solutions are playing in mitigating the catastrophic effects of natural disasters, and noted that the workshops, seminars and symposia conducted within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications make a distinct contribution in this field. Pointing out that natural disasters constitute one of the most critical challenges to sustainable development, Mr. Hunte noted that the reduction and mitigation of natural disasters is among the priorities of the United Nations, and a particular issue for the General Assembly.

    Mr. Hunte  commended the Committee for its continuing commitment and initiatives to ensure that the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space benefit all countries, particularly those of the developing world.

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    COPUOS was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 to review the scope of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, to devise programmes in this field to be undertaken under United Nations auspices, to encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters and to study legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space. COPUOS and its two Subcommittees each meet annually to consider questions put before them by the General Assembly, reports submitted to them and issues raised by the Member States. The Committee and the Subcommittees, working on the basis of consensus, make recommendations to the General Assembly.