19 June 2006

Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Concludes 49th Session in Vienna

Agrees on New Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response

VIENNA, 19 June (UN Information Service) - During its 49th session, held from 7 to 16 June, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) agreed that a platform for space-based information for disaster management and emergency response should be implemented as a programme of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA). The Committee also agreed that the partners implementing the platform should aim to begin activities in January 2007.

Other topics of discussion included space and water, space and education, spin-off benefits of space technology, space-system-based disaster management support, space debris, the use of nuclear power sources in outer space, practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects and the definition and delimitation of outer space.

 The Committee endorsed the activities of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications for the second half of 2006 and for 2007. It also reviewed the activities of the International Satellite System for Search and Rescue (Cospas-Sarsat). Among other activities, the United Nations Programme on Space Applications holds workshops and training courses to promote awareness of Cospas-Sarsat and to support countries in coordinating its use.

Space and water                

The Committee noted that space applications could significantly contribute to cost-effective water resource management as well as to the prediction and mitigation of water-related emergencies. Satellites offer an alternative way to observe the Earth and are essential for gathering information on remote places. Such observations could provide necessary information for water basin management and for the interlinking of rivers.

Implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III

The Committee discussed the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III). Among other things, the Committee agreed to continue contributing to the policy year of each of the two-year cycles of the multi-year programme of work of the Commission on Sustainable Development. In the period 2008-2009, the Commission would focus on agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa.

 Space and education

The Committee was informed of a number of national educational initiatives and activities aimed at using, content, material and applications unique to space activities for training students and teachers, and for educating the general public on matters relating to outer space.

COPUOS noted that a number of national tele-education initiatives were providing educators and students at all levels, including those in remote areas, with high-quality education consisting of the latest teaching resources, vocational and teacher training and adult education.

New agenda item

The Committee agreed to include a new item on its agenda at its next session, in 2007, entitled "International cooperation in promoting the use of space-derived geospatial data for sustainable development", under a multi-year work plan. Under this item, the Committee will discuss the existing practices in establishing infrastructure for processing space-derived geospatial data.

Symposium on "Space and Forests"

A symposium on "Space and Forests" was held on the afternoon of Monday, 12 June. The symposium was organized by OOSA in cooperation with the Institute for Global Mapping and Research of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. The symposium presented a brief overview of the available technology that is used in monitoring forests; presented case studies on the uses and benefits of space-based technology in forestry; identified ways in which developing countries can make use of space-obtained data and information to protect their forests; and recommended ways of expanding the use, particularly in developing countries, of space- obtained data and information for management of forests.

The Committee agreed that a symposium on space and water should be held during its next session, in 2007.


COPUOS has the following 67 Member States:  Albania, Algeria, 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, Libya, 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, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

 The following inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations have permanent observer status with COPUOS: Association of Space Explorers, Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, Committee on Space Research, Regional Centre for Remote Sensing of the North African States, Eurisy, European Space Agency, European Space Policy Institute, International Academy of Astronautics, International Astronautical Federation, International Astronomical Union, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, International Law Association, International Mobile Satellite Organization, Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, International Space University, National Space Society, Space Generation Advisory Council, Spaceweek International Association and The Planetary Society.


The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (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.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at http://www.unoosa.org/ .