For information only - not an official document

19 March 2012

Space Law in Focus in Vienna

VIENNA, 19 March (UN Information Service) - The 51st session of the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) opened today at the Vienna International Centre. The Subcommittee, which has been instrumental in the development of the international legal regime governing the activities of States in the exploration and use of outer space, consisting of five treaties and five sets of declarations and principles on outer space activities, will address issues such as the status and application of the United Nations treaties on outer space, definition and delimitation of outer space, matters relating to the character and use of the geostationary orbit and capacity-building in space law.

One of the key items at the session, which will last till 30 March, will be the finalization of the report of the Working Group on National Legislation Relevant to the Peaceful Exploration and Use of Outer Space. The report comes from a detailed exchange of information on national space legislation, including how States regulate the conduct of national space activities and the function of governmental authorities in authorizing, licensing, and supervising national space activities as well as the relationship between public entities and non-governmental actors which has been conducted over the past few years.

Other working groups, reconvened at this session, will be the Working Group on the Status and Application of the Five United Nations Treaties on Outer Space, and the Working Group on the Definition and Delimitation of Outer Space.

On Monday, 19 March, a symposium entitled "Transfer of ownership of space objects: Issues of responsibility, liability and registration" will be held from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. in conference room M1. The symposium will address a possible loophole in existing treaties which were drafted at a time when States were the main actors and the development of a commercial market for transfer of ownership and control of space objects in orbit was not foreseen.

For detailed programme of the symposium, see

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For further information contact:

Romana Kofler
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4962
Email: romana.kofler[at]