3 April 2009
Outer Space Legal Subcommittee
Concludes 48th Session in Vienna
VIENNA, 3 April (UN Information Service) - National mechanisms relating to space debris mitigation measures were discussed during the 48th session of the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) that took place from 23 March to 3 April in Vienna, Austria. Other topics included the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space, definition and delimitation of outer space, character and use of the geostationary orbit, capacity-building in space law, review and possible revision of the Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space and draft Protocol on Matters Specific to Space Assets to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment. The Subcommittee also heard reports by international organizations on their activities related to space law and held a symposium on the 30th anniversary of the Moon Agreement, which addressed its historical and political achievements as well as its future development.
General exchange of information on national mechanisms relating to space debris mitigation measures
In the context of the 2007 adoption of the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines by COPUOS, the Subcommittee addressed, for the first time, the implementation of space debris mitigation mechanisms on a national scale and exchanged information on different approaches and regulatory frameworks taken by Member States. The discussion aimed to help and encourage all Member States to establish and strengthen their national regulatory frameworks governing space debris mitigation.
Capacity-building in space law
Deliberations under this agenda item focused on promoting cooperation with developing countries in space law training and education as well as fostering assistance. The Subcommittee also heard appropriate actions taken or planned on a national, regional or international level by Member States, permanent observers of COPUOS and the Office for Outer Space Affairs to build capacity in space law.
Status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space
At this session, the Subcommittee reconvened its working group on this item to review activities currently being carried out on the Moon and other celestial bodies and future activities. The working group addressed the benefits of adherence to the Moon Agreement, and identified the international and national rules governing the activities on the Moon and other celestial bodies. It assessed whether existing international rules adequately address activities on the Moon and other celestial bodies.
Review and possible revision of the Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space
The Subcommittee reviewed the progress made in the development of the Principles and welcomed the adoption of the Safety Framework for Nuclear Power Source Applications in Outer Space by the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee in February 2009. The Subcommittee commended the successful cooperation between the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the International Atomic Energy Agency through the work of the Joint Expert Group of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
General exchange of information on national legislation relevant to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space
The Subcommittee, through the newly-established working group under this agenda item, examined information provided by Member States on their respective national legislation and regulatory frameworks relating to space activities in order to develop an understanding of the manner in which Member States have regulated governmental and non-governmental space activities.
The Legal Subcommittee, like COPUOS, its parent committee, has the following 69 Member States: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bolivia, 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, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.
The following intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations have permanent observer status with COPUOS: African Organization of Cartography and Remote Sensing, 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 Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, European Space Agency, European Space Policy Institute, European Telecommunications Satellite Organization, International Academy of Astronautics, International Astronautical Federation, International Astronomical Union, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, International Institute of Space Law, 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, Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, Secure World Foundation, 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 (UNOOSA) 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, UNOOSA maintains a website at www.unoosa.org
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Associate Programme Officer, UNOOSA
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4958