Amid fears of an arms race in outer space, coupled with the transformation of that domain into a zone of conflict, several speakers in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) warned today against its misuse, with some calling for new laws and mechanisms to hold perpetrators accountable.

While space exploration offered abundant opportunities as a global common good, there were no comprehensive legal and regulatory mechanisms to prevent States from using it for military purposes, Kazakhstan’s representative said.
Speaking on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, Indonesia’s delegate called for negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament of a universal legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. Similarly, Paraguay’s representative called for action to address the issue of damages caused by space activities and the creation of an appropriate legal regime regulating that aspect.
Indeed, the weaponization of outer space by one player could prompt others to do the same, South Africa’s speaker cautioned. If the international community waited for space to become weaponized before taking action, “it would not be long before we have to find yet another cure for something that could have been prevented”, he said.
While the First Committee should explore ways to prevent an arms race, “a new legal framework should not be an end in itself”, said Norway’s delegate, pointing out that one path forward was a non legally binding agreement negotiated at the United Nations and modelled on the International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities, as proposed by the European Union.
Meanwhile, several speakers from developing countries called for efforts to support their peaceful uses of outer space. Delegates also underscored the increasing importance of pursuing activities in outer space towards the achievement of national development goals.
In addition, space science and its application could play a major role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, Cuba’s representative said. She emphasized the importance of legitimate access for all States to outer space and the provision of training, the transfer of technology and cooperation among nations, without discrimination. Indeed, developing countries would neither carry the burden of non proliferation nor accept any discriminatory restrictions that hampered their peaceful pursuits in outer space, Pakistan’s delegate said.
Welcoming draft texts introduced by the delegations of China and the Russian Federation on “no first placement of weapons in outer space” and “prevention of an arms race in outer space”, several speakers expressed support for those initiatives. Some held up the draft texts as a starting point for discussions through the Conference on Disarmament towards a legally binding international instrument.
Other speakers, among them the European Union’s delegate, maintained reservations about the Chinese Russian proposal for a draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects. She expressed concern about the “no first placement” initiative as it did not address trust building between States, nor provide a definition of an outer space weapon.
Australia’s representative stressed that both the draft treaty and the “no first placement” proposal focused on preventing the placement of weapons in orbit. However, they were silent on the threat posed by ground based anti satellite weapons and high energy lasers.
Echoing a similar concern, the speaker from the United States highlighted the development of anti satellite capabilities by some States to challenge perceived adversaries, all while professing a desire for the “non weaponization of space”. Efforts to enhance stability in outer space would fail without addressing terrestrially based anti satellite weapons, he said.
Egypt’s delegate said the weaponization of that domain, for any purpose – whether offensive or defensive – should be prevented globally. A good basis for doing that was enshrined in the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Outer Space Treaty). Nevertheless, there was a clear need for serious efforts to draft new legally binding instruments that complemented that instrument, he said.
Many speakers expressed support for transparency and confidence building measures as a complement to a legally binding treaty. Such non binding measures offered the best chance for an immediate improvement in the security and sustainability of outer space and for gaining widespread acceptance, some argued.
Several draft resolutions were introduced including on transparency and confidence building measures in outer space activities; no first placement of weapons in outer space; further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space; and on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
Also speaking today were representatives of Yemen (for the Arab Group), Belarus (for the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Switzerland, Japan, Algeria, Russian Federation, France, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Indonesia, Italy, Venezuela, United Kingdom, El Salvador, Argentina and Iran, as well as the Holy See.
Delivering statements during the conclusion of the thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction were representatives of South Africa, Russian Federation, Qatar and Iran.
Representatives of China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, United States and the Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 18 October, to begin its thematic debate on conventional weapons.
Background
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to conclude its thematic discussion on other weapons of mass destruction and begin its debate on outer space (disarmament aspects). For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.
Other Weapons of Mass Destruction
Ms. WARRIES (South Africa) said the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) had played a central role in enhancing international peace and security. About 96 per cent of deadly chemical agents had been destroyed, but more weapons still existed. While welcoming the progress made in the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, it was imperative that perpetrators were brought to justice, she said, underlining that any findings and conclusions must be “verifiable and factual”. South Africa reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention). Concerned by the threat caused by deliberately manufactured biological agents, she said technical cooperation and assistance between State Parties, and major international coordination was needed to eliminate the threat of the spread of such arms, and the universalization of both conventions was crucial for their effective elimination.
VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation), noting that his country’s elimination of its chemical weapon stockpiles had been a titanic effort and a historic landmark for the entire international community, said “we cannot stop at this”. Calling on other countries to follow the Russian Federation’s example, especially Chemical Weapons Convention signatories who still possessed stockpiles, he raised the issue of chemical weapon use in other countries. Pointing out that the Government of Syria, while in the most difficult circumstances, had eliminated its chemical weapon potential, he said “no other States have done anything like that”. Adding that the Russian Federation had consistently advocated for full investigations on the use of chemical weapons, he said the fact finding mission in Syria should use all resources in order to clarify the situation and any attempt of other countries “to accuse before the completion of the mission cannot be accepted”. Such policies were dangerous and they undermined the investigation’s credibility. Highlighting the Russian Federation’s initiative to convene a conference to combat chemical and biological terrorism, he called on all States to work in the spirit of compromise.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said weapons of mass destruction constituted a threat to humanity. Calling on the international community to mobilize efforts to save humanity from such horrors, she said international peace and security could not be achieved with the threat of an arms race. With increased global tensions, particularly in the Middle East, she expressed concern that terrorists could access such weapons, with serious ramifications to peace and security in the world. Qatar would continue to work with partners to implement its international legal obligations in that area. States must also work together to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, expressed support for genuine, transparent and inclusive efforts towards the balanced and non-discriminatory implementation of instruments addressing weapons of mass destruction. He rejected a selective approach in the implementation of such instruments and any attempts to abuse them to impose restrictions. At the same time, Iran strongly supported the balanced implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention, he said, calling for negotiations of a multilateral legally binding protocol to the Convention. Welcoming the conclusion of the eighth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, he called for a pragmatic and non-selective approach to upcoming meetings. Recalling that Iran had been a victim of the large-scale use of chemical weapons during its war with Iraq, he emphasized that certain corporations had been involved in the development of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons programme, adding that his country had not retaliated for such attacks. Despite that experience, Iran had been among the first to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said, urging all non-parties to accede to the instrument without delay.
Outer Space
ANGGI SAZIKA JENIE (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, expressed concerns over the development of anti ballistic missile systems and the threat of the weaponization and militarization of outer space. She reiterated the call for negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament of a universal legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. The elaboration of any code of conduct for such activities must be consistent with the respective mandate of all relevant United Nations bodies and stem from inclusive, transparent and consensus based multilateral negotiations within the United Nations framework.
MARWAN ALI NOMAN AL-DOBHANY (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said it was important to maintain peaceful uses of outer space and prevent its weaponization. Human activities in outer space should be under the United Nations authority and in accordance with the principles of universality. Governing those activities should respect the interests of all people and nations, with a view to preventing conflicts, wars and an arms race. Asking States to consider adopting a binding mechanism to ban weapons in outer space, he also recommended that efforts were focused on its peaceful uses for developing countries and requested the creation of a security related initiative.
JUDIT KÖRÖMI of the European Union delegation recognized outer space as a global common good and relayed the accomplishments and potential of the European Union’s Galileo and Copernicus programmes, which would contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The European Union had adopted a new space strategy and would remain an active partner in the collaborative use and care of outer space. Global principles of responsible behavior would increase international cooperation and must address all activities and concerns, including debris, traffic management and preventing an arms race. To ensure the latter, European Union member States had voted in favor of General Assembly resolution 71/31.
Maintaining reservations about the updated draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects, she said a new legally binding instrument would need to be comprehensive, effective and verifiable. She regretted to note that the Russian Federation and China had not taken the European Union’s proposals to adjust the draft mandate to allow for a broader discussion in reference to their proposed establishment of a new group of governmental experts to consider a legally binding instrument to prevent an outer space arms race. She also expressed concern about the “no first placement of weapons in outer space” initiative, which did not address the trust building between States nor provide a definition of an outer space weapon. Mutual trust and transparency was key in the ongoing efforts to govern and sustain outer space, she said, as demonstrated by the European Union’s co sponsorship of the draft resolution on transparency and confidence building measures.
ARTSIOM TOZIK (Belarus), speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, expressed support for the Chinese Russian draft resolution on no first placement of weapons in outer space. Also supportive of the peaceful uses of outer space, he welcomed efforts made by States in preventing an arms race. The draft proposal was an effective measure in that area and played a key role in the development of practical steps, he said, calling upon Member States to show political will towards that aim.
SABRINA DALLAFIOR MATTER (Switzerland) said international norms must be strengthened to maintain peace and stability in outer space. The ultimate goal was to guarantee its peaceful use for future generations, she said, expressing support for the report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence Building Measures. Regarding the prevention of an arms race, Switzerland supported the development of a legally binding international instrument. In that regard, the Chinese Russian proposal submitted to the Conference on Disarmament constituted a basis for discussion. However, many questions relating to the related draft resolution must be addressed, she said, adding that such a treaty should also ban the development and testing of land based anti satellite weapons.
YERZHAN KUATBEKOV (Kazakhstan) said that while outer space provided incredible opportunities for peaceful use, there were no comprehensive legal and regulatory mechanisms to prevent States from using outer space for military purposes. Meanwhile, urgent improvements were needed to address the shortcomings of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Outer Space Treaty). The robust expansion into outer space compelled the international community to review measures needed to overcome gaps in the existing legal regime to prevent weaponization activities. Expressing support for a joint resolution on transparency and confidence building measures, sponsored by China, the Russia Federation and the United States, he also supported the related Chinese Russian draft resolution.
JEFFREY L. EBERHARDT (United States) expressed concern about some countries’ commitment to develop anti satellite capabilities to challenge perceived adversaries while professing a desire for the “non weaponization of space”. Efforts to enhance stability in outer space would fail without addressing terrestrially based anti satellite weapons. As a member of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence Building Measures, his country had co-sponsored resolutions that encouraged the international community to review and implement the Group’s report recommendations. Reiterating that the growing dependence of all nations on outer space based systems necessitated collaborative efforts to enhance stability, he called on the international community to consider measures that would help to sustain the outer space environment for future generations.
DARREN HANSEN (Australia), noting that his country was among only 16 States that were party to all five space treaties, said he remained open to considering the negotiation of further practical space instruments. He expressed some concerns about the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and the “no first placement” initiative. Those proposed efforts focused on preventing the placement of weapons in orbit, but were silent on the threat posed by ground based anti satellite weapons and high energy lasers. Both initiatives also failed to adequately define a space weapon, which, given the high degree of dual use space technology, may not even be possible. Confusion over definitional issues could lead countries to mistakenly assess that another country had already placed weapons in space. Verifiable non binding transparency and confidence building measures offered the best chance for an immediate improvement in the security and sustainability of outer space and for gaining widespread acceptance.
OBUSHIGE TAKAMIZAWA (Japan) cited several challenges in outer space activities that should be urgently addressed, including congestion and satellite related debris. Reaffirming the importance of enhancing the rule of law to address those and other issues, he encouraged States to refrain from any action that brought about the damage or destruction of space objects, including the development of anti satellite capabilities. Japan’s activities had always been peaceful and would continue to be so, he said, underscoring the need to explore how the international community could preserve and enhance the long term safety, security and sustainability of outer space. Emphasizing the importance of mutual trust between actors, particularly through transparency and confidence building measures, he encouraged States to review and implement such proposed activities.
ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said his country adhered to the principles of peaceful exploration and use of outer space for the benefit of mankind as a whole. Paraguay refrained from the use or threat of use of weapons in outer space and promoted the prevention of an arms race, including advocating for the full respect of the international legal regime. Underlining the importance of peaceful exploration and developments in related science and technology, he urged all States to work together to enhance international cooperation. Transparency and confidence building measures were fundamental, he said, calling for attention to be paid to the issue of damages caused from space activities alongside the creation of an appropriate legal regime regulating that aspect.
ERIK B. HUSEM (Norway), recalling his country’s 2017 launch of 2 satellites as the first of 70 in a multi satellite launch, said those would help Norwegian Government agencies with a range of tasks, including monitoring ship traffic, managing fisheries and conducting search and rescue in the North Sea. They were also evidence of Norway’s status as a space nation, he said, stressing that the domain was a global common good to be used for the benefit of humankind. Underscoring the importance of a predictable, rules based international legal order, he said countries must work together to adopt approaches for responsible activity in space and to preserve the right of all nations to explore and use it. While the First Committee should explore ways to prevent an arms race, “a new legal framework should not be an end in itself”, and a non legally binding agreement negotiated at the United Nations and modelled on the International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities, proposed by the European Union, was one way to proceed.
BASSEM HASSAN (Egypt), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said outer space was a common asset for humanity as a whole. Accordingly, all activities should maintain a peaceful nature and the United Nations should reach consensus on a set of legally binding rules to prevent an arms race or the use of force against outer space objects. Weaponization of that domain, for any purpose – whether offensive or defensive – should be prevented globally, he said, pointing at the Outer Space Treaty as a good basis for addressing that objective. Nevertheless, there was a clear need for serious efforts to draft new legally binding instruments that complemented that instrument. For its part, Egypt had joined Sri Lanka in tabling a draft resolution on the prevention of an arms race in outer space and had worked with relevant bodies dealing with outer space activities in the League of Arab States and the African Union.
FARUKH AMIL (Pakistan) said outer space was being used by an increasing number of States both for civilian and military purposes. While the reliance and dependence on related applications were increasing, the risk of its weaponization was also rising and there was an urgent need to address the issue in order to prevent outer space from emerging as a new realm of conflict. At the same time, the dominance in that realm currently enjoyed by certain countries due to their current technological prowess could not last forever, he said, adding that other States were catching up fast. Developing countries would neither carry the burden of non proliferation, nor would they accept any discriminatory restrictions that hampered their peaceful pursuits in outer space. While the Outer Space Treaty prohibited the placement of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in outer space, it was silent on the placement of other types of arms. Expressing support for the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, he said it provided a useful basis for the commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament.
MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), endorsing the Arab Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said outer space played a significant role to the socioeconomic and scientific lives of nations. Calling for security transparency and confidence regarding activities in outer space, Algeria aspired to use outer space to meet its development goals. Raising several concerns, he said militarization could lead to an arms race and developing and placing anti ballistic systems in space could have a negative security impact. The existing legal regime had deficiencies and it was necessary to employ extra efforts within the Conference on Disarmament to promote the current framework and bridge gaps, he said, welcoming the adoption of a related resolution on the prevention of the weaponization of outer space.
Mr. YERMAKOV (Russian Federation) said one of the international community’s most important tasks was the prevention of an arms race in outer space. However, the establishment of a reliable barrier was possible only through legally binding agreements. In that context, he called for the launch of negotiations through the Conference on Disarmament on a relevant instrument. A sound basis was the Chinese Russian draft proposal. Nevertheless, there was one thing lacking: the desire of some partners to solve the problem of the prevention of an arms race in outer space. At the same time, the situation in the Conference on Disarmament had not changed for the better.
He then introduced a draft resolution on further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space, calling on States to support the important initiative. To date, the only effective measure of the prevention was the obligation not to place weapons in outer space, he said. In addition, the “no first placement” initiative was the most important tool. Turning to transparency and confidence building measures, he said significant work was being done and some measures had been transferred into normative provisions. He also called on all States to support the joint resolution on transparency and confidence building measures, introduced by his country, China and the United States.
ALICE GUITTON (France) said her country had two main goals in the field of outer space: ensuring long term sustainability and security of activities. The space environment was steadily worsening, she noted, adding that the growing proliferation of debris and the deliberate destruction of objects were putting the domain at risk. Space activities should be developed in compliance with the Charter of the United Nations and international law. Furthermore, the principle of responsible use of space should be promoted and the international community’s action should be part of an overall framework for the prevention of an arms race. France supported the adoption of transparency and confidence building measures and the European Union’s Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.
KIM IN RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said outer space was no longer an exclusive realm of developed countries, but the global domain for development. Many countries had accepted its opportunities as a major requirement for national development. While the purpose was accelerating national development and improving people’s living standard, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea adhered to the principle of maintaining independence and self-reliance. His country also respected international norms in the peaceful development and use of outer space, while attaching great importance to exchanges and cooperation with various countries and international organizations. Meanwhile, outer space was faced with the threat of militarization, he said, noting that the United States’ “missile defence” and spy satellite launches of its “followers” were acts of extreme danger that would lead to an arms race, arousing anxiety among many countries.
SHUAIB MAHOMED (South Africa), welcoming the draft treaty on the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space, said that when it came to establishing “rules of the road” for behaviour in space, there was no alternative to open and transparent multilateral processes. The weaponization of outer space by one player could prompt others to do the same, he cautioned, adding that if the international community waited for space to become weaponized before taking action, “it would not be long before we have to find yet another cure for something that could have been prevented”.
ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) raised concerns about militarization and asked for efforts to strengthen the legal regime to prevent that from happening. The draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space should also prohibit the use of anti satellite items, she said, highlighting the importance of implementing international measures on transparency and confidence building. The use of outer space should be regulated within the United Nations framework and based on consensus. For its part, Cuba was committed to the prevention of an arms race and called for all States to never legitimize the placement of weapons in that domain. The development of space science and its application was of growing importance and could play a major role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. However, the use of outer space should not undermine the security of nations and in particular of developing countries, she said, emphasizing the importance of legitimate access for all States to outer space and of the provision of training and the transfer of technology and cooperation among States, without discrimination.
SUN LEI (China) said for six decades space technology and applications had brought a multitude of benefits for humankind. One important reason for those immense achievements was the establishment of a principle of peaceful use from the very start of the space era. In that regard, the United Nations had carried out a great amount of work adopting the Outer Space Treaty. China had consistently advocated for a legally binding instrument on outer space arms control, having co submitted with the Russian Federation a draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space in the Conference on Disarmament. China together with the Russian Federation had also introduced a draft resolution on further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space, he said, calling on States to support it. Transparency and confidence building measures could help maintain space security by complementing a negotiated international legal instrument on outer space arms control.
FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, expressed support for a legally binding instrument toward the prevention of an arms race in outer space and also negotiations based on the related draft treaty. Raising concerns about congestion and competition in outer space and the resulting compromising of security, he underscored the importance of transparency and confidence building measures as a complement, but not substitution, to a legally binding treaty. In parallel with disarmament efforts, the international community needed to also address debris mitigation in view of the alarming current situation, with meaningful initiatives crafted to tackle that challenge.
KIM IN-CHUL, (Republic of Korea), said that the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was in the process of developing a set of guidelines that would be ready to transmit to the General Assembly in time for June 2018, the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE+50). The Republic of Korea valued existing initiatives on transparency and confidence building measures. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities were counterproductive, he said, highlighting its attempts to develop long range ballistic missiles for uses that could not be considered peaceful, and their continued violations of Security Council resolutions. He called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to re establish its commitments to a moratorium on missile launches and abandon any ballistic missile programmes.
HTIN LYNN (Myanmar), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said research and development in new space technologies and capabilities were progressing faster than ever before. While such advancements could improve lives, the impact of new technologies for military purposes was a cause of concern and any space related developments should come with greater transparency and confidence building measures. In addition to the Outer Space Treaty, activities should be guided in a legally binding manner. In that regard, the Conference on Disarmament had a primary role in the negotiation of a multilateral agreement on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. Against that backdrop, he welcomed related proposals, including the Chinese Russian draft text.
Mr. BEKTIKESUMA (Indonesia), said the prevention of an arms race in outer space had assumed greater urgency, with legitimate concerns that the existing legal instruments were inadequate to deter militarization and weaponization. Transparency and confidence building measures and a voluntary mechanism were important elements for any future international legal instrument. The international community urgently needed to conclude a new, legally binding instrument, through negotiations, to prevent an arms race. In that context, the Conference on Disarmament should start negotiations without delay.
VINICIO MATI (Italy) said space based applications offered unique resources in areas such as economic growth, innovation, and facing challenges including climate change and disaster risk management. It was therefore imperative to prevent and mitigate the risks associated with lack of traffic management, creation of debris, harmful interferences, miscalculations and mistrust. Italy was working towards the long term sustainability, safety and security of the space environment, having been among the main supporters of the European Union’s International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities as a first non legally binding step. Such an instrument would be fully complementary to other initiatives, he said, including a comprehensive, effective and verifiable legally binding instrument. A set of globally shared principles of responsible behaviour would be the most appropriate response, he added, noting that they could lead to a voluntary code of conduct and serve long term goals across a range of space activities.
WILMER ALFONZO MÉNDEZ GRATEROL (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said it was interested in expanding its use of outer space for peaceful purposes in the interest of all humanity. Space exploration offered the potential for development in many areas, however, all States must respect the principle of non militarization and refrain from actions that would lead to the placement of any type of arms. An arms race must be prevented with a legally binding instrument, he said, expressing support for the draft resolutions on “no first placement” and on the prevention of an arms race, which was a good basis for the development of a legally binding instrument.
SIMON CLEOBURY (United Kingdom) said the increasing number of satellites in space could deliver global benefits, including ubiquitous broadband communications to remote locations, however, “we need to face up to the debris challenge” through several available innovative technologies. In 2015, the United Kingdom had briefed the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space on its involvement in the European “Remove Debris” project to develop and fly an in orbit demonstrator mission to verify technologies needed for future debris removal missions. While strongly supporting transparency and confidence building measures to address the risk of conflict, he said some countries had proposed establishing a new group of governmental experts to consider elements for a legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race without considering the need for the draft mandate to allow for a broader discussion of ways to address the safety, security and sustainability of activities. The United Kingdom did not rule out the possibility of one day agreeing to a new legally binding treaty on outer space, but there remained serious political, technological and practical challenges before such negotiations could begin. He also emphasized that the United Kingdom maintained reservations on the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, and shared the European Union’s reservations about the “no first placement” initiative.
SERGIO MANRIQUE TREJO BLANCO (El Salvador) said that 2017 was a special year in terms of regulating outer space, with proposals for a legally binding treaty and other related developments. He called for strengthening technical and human capabilities to achieve sustainable development for developing countries. Raising concerns about the use of outer space, he pointed at the threat of militarization and arms race as areas that needed attention. Outer space was a common heritage and should be used for the benefit of humankind, he said, expressing support for measures on transparency and confidence building, which should be negotiated within the United Nations and based on consensus.
MARTIN GARCIA MORITAN (Argentina) said the Outer Space Treaty played a key role in maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes. Highlighting that the use of outer space should be for the entire population of the planet, he reaffirmed the right of all States to use outer space for peaceful purposes. The prevention of an arms race and prohibition on the placement of weapons would avoid weaponization, he added. Adopting transparency and confidence building measures was also necessary, he said, recalling that Article 4 of the Outer Space Treaty only prohibited weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons, but not conventional weapons and other tools, such as satellites, anti satellite defence systems or information viruses.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said outer space was the common heritage of all humankind. All States had freedom and sovereign equality in space discovery, but it must be explored and utilized exclusively for peaceful purposes. Recent efforts towards developing and deploying national and collective missile defence systems had implications for outer space and international peace and security. Iran supported the commencement of substantive negotiations on the prevention of an arms race through the Conference on Disarmament, he said, adding the complementary role of transparency and confidence building measures in outer space activities. However, such measures could not replace the negotiation of a universal, legally binding treaty to prevent an arms race. Moreover, any attempt aimed at turning space technology into a monopoly of a few countries or imposing restrictions on its use by developing countries should be avoided.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA Permanent Observer of the Holy See said that technologies for the exploration and use of outer space could be double edged; they could be used both for peaceful or bellicose ends. Therefore, the tremendous advances in outer space technology must be accompanied by a corresponding heightened sense of responsibility for limiting the employment of such means to peaceful uses. The impact of a war in space on civilian life could be far more devastating than an armed conflict on the ground. Thus, the militarization of outer space, and especially an arms race, must be prevented. The crucial importance of the outer space environment to all nations meant that the “common space” was treated in ways that went beyond traditional notions of national sovereignty. He welcomed the recommendation on transparency and confidence building measures, proposed by China, Russian Federation and the United States. Work was needed on security building measures to ensure that outer space did not become a place to where earthly conflicts were extended. He also noted that the use of satellites for observation was critical for huge and vast humanitarian operations, in monitoring and mapping the effects of climate change and in gathering evidence of possible genocide.
Right of Reply
The representative of China responded to his counterpart from Japan’s suggestion that China was not being cooperative in the destruction of abandoned chemical weapons. If Japan did not provide documentation and relevant input, he asked how China could resolve the problem itself. China would like to see real action by Japan to remove all remaining weapons.
The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the allegations made by his counterpart from the Republic of Korea. The goal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s outer space programme was to build an economic power and improve people’s standard of living.
The representative of the United States responded to comments made by the Russian Federation’s delegate about a country that had not yet completed the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile. The United States was committed to destroying its remaining chemical stockpiles by the end of 2023. Further, the United States had provided $1 billion to assist the Russian Federation in the destruction of its chemical weapons programme.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should not launch anything in outer space using ballistic missile technology.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea suggested that his counterpart from the Republic of Korea study the Charter of the United Nations and international law.

Source: United Nations

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