Committee on the Peaceful Unedited transcript

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United Nations COPUOS/T.504

Committee on the Peaceful Unedited transcript

Uses of Outer Space

504th Meeting

Wednesday, 11 June 2003, 3 p.m.


Chairman: Mr. González Aninat (Chile)

The meeting was called to order at 3.03 p.m.

General exchange of views (agenda item 5)

The CHAIRMAN (interpretation from Spanish): Distinguished delegates, good afternoon. I see you all are very energetic. No naps this afternoon.
I would now like to give the floor to my friend, the distinguished Ambassador of Cuba, who would like to make a short statement. You have the floor Sir.
Mr. J. R. CABAÑAS RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba) (interpretation from Spanish): Thank you Mr. Chairman, and I would like to begin by apologizing by taking the floor twice on the same topic but we would like to say to the benefit of all here attending the Committee and the Bureaux that unfortunately, due to an error of editing in our original statement, we omitted an item which is very important for GRULAC and GRULAC had achieved a consensus on this point and thus I would like to reflect the idea before the Committee at this time.
And so I would like to ask the Secretariat that in reflecting the record of this meeting, that they take into account that GRULAC would like to see reflected in the minutes, the region’s desire to institutionalize the Space Conference of the Americas. This is an event that we have referred to many times and it is an important initiative and a vital one for the region.
Now, having made that clarification to our initial statement, I would like to thank the Chairman for giving me the floor one more time. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN (interpretation from Spanish): Thank you to the distinguished Ambassador of Cuba for his clarification and the Secretariat has taken due note of that.
I now would like to continue with our list of speakers for this afternoon and it is a great pleasure to give the floor to the first speaker on the list and that is the distinguished representative of Brazil, Mr. Silva.
Mr. S. LEITE DA SILVA (Brazil) (interpretation from Spanish): Thank you Mr. Chairman. I will now read our statement.
(Continued in English) We are pleased to see you presiding over this session as well as COPUOS for an extended period of one year. The Committee will continue to benefit from your experience. I am sure that under your guidance this session will have very productive results.
We would like also to express our appreciation to Ambassador Walther Lichem of Austria for his endeavours during the intersessional informal consultations which resulted in the agreement on the composition of the Bureaux of the Committee and its subsidiary bodies. Ambassador Lichem’s intensive consultations with the chairs of the regional groups, with regional groups and with individual member countries, made possible a fair and positive agreement, which took in due consideration an equitable geographical rotation.
Mr. Chairman, my delegation fully endorses the statement made by the distinguished Ambassador of Cuba, José Ramón Cabaños, who spoke on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, GRULAC.
Let me recall that during the forty-second session of the Legal Subcommittee, Brazil presented a proposal, together with Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Greece, Mexico and Peru, for the inclusion in the agenda of that Subcommittee of an item for discussion on the possible elaboration of an international convention on remote sensing of the Earth from outer space. We firmly believe this proposal deserves further consideration by the Committee, as the principles on remote sensing activities, contained in resolution 41/65 of the United Nations General Assembly, are not any longer enough to deal with all emerging issues in this field, especially those resulting from the participation of the private sector in remote sensing activities.
Mr. Chairman, the Brazilian Government is pleased to note the important progress made by the Action Teams on the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, UNISPACE III. We hope that the Action Teams will pave the way for concrete results in the promotion of international cooperation on the peaceful uses of outer space, with special attention to the needs of developing countries.
We also acknowledge the measures taken by the Government of Italy regarding the deactivation of the satellite BEPPO-SAX, I do not know how to pronounce it exactly. The re-entrance of the Italian satellite in the atmosphere also made possible to further advance the studies on space debris in Brazil.
Mr. Chairman, Brazil continues to enhance its cooperation with other countries in the area of the peaceful uses of outer space. In this context, allow me to highlight a few important new achievements.
The launching of the second China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite, CBERS-2, from the base of Tayuan, in the Chinese province of Shanxi, is scheduled for 9 September 2003.
Brazil and China signed a Complementary Protocol to the Bilateral Agreement on 27 November 2002 for the continuity of joint development of Earth resources satellites. In this context, it is expected that the satellites CBERS-3 and CBERS-4 will be launched respectively in 2005 and 2008. The costs of construction will be shared equally between the two parties. A joint venture between Brazil and China is also being considered for the commercialization of images of the two satellites, as well as for the construction of the reception stations and image processing. The Complementary Protocol also extended the existing cooperation on soil and space applications.
On 23 December 2002, the Ministry of Science and Technology of Brazil and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Mozambique signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the installation of a system of environmental and hydrological monitoring in Mozambique with the utilization of Brazilian satellites.
And finally, the Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, CRECTEALC, signed an Affiliation Agreement with the United Nations, with the collaboration of the OOSA.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN (interpretation from Spanish): Thank you to the distinguished representative of Brazil for his statement.
I now give the floor to the distinguished representative of China.
Mr. W. SU (China) (interpretation from Chinese): Mr. Chairman, first let me congratulate you on your continuation as Chairman of this session of the Committee. I would like to congratulate also the other members of the Bureaux. I am confident that your rich experience and abilities will enable this session to obtain its expected success. As it has always done in the past, the Chinese delegation will continue to actively support and participate in the various tasks before the Committee.
We are very pleased that, by consensus, we have solved the problem of the composition of the Bureaux and would like to thank the Ambassador of Austria for the important role that he has played during the intersessional efforts. We believe that the agreement reached this morning will promote the orderly and efficient way of working of the Committee, thus promoting the equitable participation of all regions in the peaceful use of outer space resources.
Since we have opportunity to speak on our views during the respective items of the agenda, I would like to make several general comments on the peaceful use of outer space.
Mr. Chairman, enormous gains have been won by mankind in the exploration and use of outer space, promoting, thus, to a very great extent the economical, technical, social progress and development of all countries, an achievement acknowledged by all and worthy of praise.
On the other hand, we can clearly see that illuming a new challenge is facing mankind in the peaceful use of outer space, in particular when the militarized use of outer space is being continuously expanded and the risk of weaponization of outer space has become more and more marked each day. This will create an extremely great threat against the exploration development and peaceful use of outer space by man. It will also result in serious negative impacts on the process of controls of the arms race and disarmament as well as the impact on the environment for international security.
The Chinese Government has always believed that the ultimate goal for the exploration and use of outer space is to enable mankind to have a better space for survival and development. All outer space activities by all countries should contribute to advancing the friendly cooperation and social progress of peoples all over the world, of all the countries, and conducive to the keeping of international peace and security. China has consistently supported all efforts in the peaceful use of outer space and has always opposed the arms race in outer space.
Nonetheless, a mechanism in international law, capable of comprehensively and effectively preventing the militarization of outer space, is yet to be established. We hope the Committee can make greater efforts to prevent militarization of outer space and in particular to draw up an international agreement to prevent an arms race and weaponization of outer space. In this area, China is ready to exert tireless efforts with the international community to reach an early agreement on such a treaty for the sake of establishing a peaceful and tranquil environment in outer space.
Finally, I would like to present briefly the achievements made by China in the year 2002 in the area of aeronautics in space.
Last year, not only has China launched and retrieved successfully space vehicles Shen Zhou-3 and 4, laying thus a solid foundation for a manned space expedition. We have also successfully launched the fourth meteorological satellite, Feng Yun-1, to the polar orbit and the first marine satellite number-1 to a pre-set orbit. This has increased the global meteorological observation capability of China probe, finding thus scientific grounds for the rational development of marine resources and marine pollution, monitoring of marine disasters, the management, as well as protection of the marine environment, fulfilling this, an important function for an integrated management of the Chinese coastal areas and planning of the regional economic development.
Last May, China has again successfully, and with accuracy, put on to a pre-set orbit, the third navigation and positioning satellite, BEIDOU-1, Polar Star 1, setting up thus a regional navigation positional system. The main purpose of this system is for the Chinese economic construction, providing for China high-efficiency and navigation positioning service in areas such as transport, meteorology, petroleum and marine resources, prevention of forest fires, disaster warning, communication, public security and other specialized sectors.
And, furthermore, China and Brazil and other countries have developed many activities in outer space. China attaches great importance to such international cooperation. We have always advocated that we should increase and intensify international cooperation in outer space on the basis of peaceful use, the quality and mutual benefits learning from one another and shared development. We hope that members of the Committee will exert efforts together to promote the peaceful use of outer space to ensure that the valuable outer space resources can be, indeed, properly used for the peaceful development of mankind. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN (interpretation from Spanish): I would like to thank the distinguished representative of the Republic of China and my next speaker on the list is the distinguished Deputy Ambassador of Colombia, to whom I now give the floor.
Mr. C. A. ARÉVALO YEPES (Colombia) (interpretation from Spanish): Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. I would like to begin by expressing our personal pleasure and that of my country in seeing you preside over our work and we would further like to thank you for your very rich statement, not only in terms of the vision you articulated, but also in terms of the concrete proposals that you have put on the table for us to discuss.
Likewise, I would like to express Colombia’s support for the statement of GRULAC, as expressed by the distinguished Ambassador of Cuba. And further, Colombia’s endorsement of Dr. Sergio Camacho’s work. I would further like to indicate our appreciation for his statement this morning and congratulate him because in a very short period of time he has shown great leadership and efficiency.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to express Colombia’s attachment to the role, both scientifically and technically and legally, in the peaceful use of outer space in this Committee. It is a source of ongoing concern for Colombia to contribute both to the substantive issues and the working methodology of COPUOS in both Subcommittees. We further would like to congratulate the Subcommittees for their work and particularly their Chairs. We feel that COPUOS should increase its efforts to reflect in the results achieved, the changing nature of this activity and its importance in adapting to the new world and the reality of space activities. There has been a freeze of norms and standards and to the contrary we need a dynamic reflection on the challenges before us on an agenda which is increasingly multi-faceted and complex. All of this is naturally to seek a way to contribute specifically to the needs of developing countries in particular, but also we seek new dimensions, new innovative interconnections which characterize the saga of space.
Mr. Chairman, it is an honour for Colombia to be able to report to this plenary the signing last April of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Pro Tempore Secretariat, headed by Colombia at this time, of the Fourth Space Conference of the Americas and COPUOS. This instrument was signed here in Vienna by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Carolina Barco for Colombia and the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, Dr. Antonio Maria Costa. This Memorandum of Understanding is the first of such kind to be signed between the United Nations and an entire region, i.e., the Latin American continent, in this sphere of activity. And, thus, it is a very important support to have the United Nations support through OOSA for the joint efforts of an entire region which is attempting to achieve space technology and to make space activity something which contributes to the economic and social wellbeing. I would like to thank Dr. Sergio Camacho especially for his cooperation in this regard and also to you, Mr. Chairman, for your enthusiastic support of this initiative which, we are sure, will ultimately benefit the entire region.
In this regard, it is also important to underscore, that, taking into account the Cartagena statement of the Fourth Space Conference of the Americas, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee with pleasure accepted and noted the interest expressed in developing cooperation and coordination mechanisms in the area of space activities in the region.
In this regard, and as Pro Tempore Secretariat, I would now like to report that currently consultations are under way and, of course, we would hope to see more concrete results emerge in this area which we consider so important as the Pro Tempore Secretariat.
Likewise, and in keeping with one of your proposals, Mr. Chairman, which was supported by Colombia and endorsed by GRULAC, we would like to express our firm support the need for seeking institutionalization of the Fourth Space Conference of the Americas that it have a fixed headquarters and so they have periodic meetings for the hemisphere in this area. We think that the time is ripe now for this subject. And the time has also come to begin to think that countries which are more technologically advanced in the region should host these meetings, in very informal meetings. We have heard very positive opinions expressed and these favour the possible candidature of Canada who heard it and was very open to it, if I may say so in a rather informal manner.
Mr. Chairman, in our enthusiasm to achieve a solution for the composition of the Bureaux, we achieved a consensus on the basis of equitable rotation, geographically, and this will give a new impetus for internal consultations within the Committee. On behalf of Colombia, I would like to express my appreciation and admiration to Ambassador Walther Lichem, Ambassador of Austria, for having achieved this agreement to which Colombia gives its full support. I would also like to express the Colombian Government’s appreciation to GRULAC for having put me forth as a nomination for First Vice-Chair of the Committee for 2004. We had a number of very fruitful discussions and at times we did encounter some differing opinions but always in a very constructive spirit, seeking consensus, as is the tradition in the United Nations.
Mr. Chairman, it is important to highlight a number of contributions to the idea of the geostationary orbit, contributions that were made in the last year. The idea, an item of geostationary orbit, is very important to Colombia and we fully support GRULAC’s statement in regard to this topic and, thus, we do not need to reiterate our statement with regard to this item.
With regard to telecommunications, we would like to see implementation of resolution 56/62 of the United Nations which enshrines in COPUOS the resolution adopted by the General Assembly with regard to the rational use of the geostationary orbit by which mechanisms are established for orbital respect in keeping with principles of equity and protection of the interest of developing nations.
We would also like to highlight contributions made by the Colombian delegation in the Subcommittee of technical and scientific matters with regard to evaluating the Band K model with regard to climatic statistics and the dateline which again puts forth a very equitable solution to the use of the geostationary orbit by equatorial countries. We would also like to underscore the importance of the agreement achieved by the Committee in its forty-fourth session which agreed to, and here I quote, “the geostationary orbit, which is characterized by its special nature, is part of outer space”. This formula, we are sure, will facilitate future examination of the geostationary orbit on behalf of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee.
Mr. Chairman, I would now like to specially refer to the item of the agenda of society and space. We believe that this is a vital subject and it would be timely to re-examine it in a more focused manner. It should be geared to space and education with a three-year working plan. And having said that, Mr. Chairman, this coincides with the scheduling for the end of the next year, the theme of which will be space and society.
It is important to point out that the final results of this work can be transmitted to UNESCO and the General Conference. It is increasingly obvious that space sciences and technology and its applications are part of everyday life of everyone and thus we need education and pedagogy which reflects this fact. Also the importance of space and education is reflected in remote areas of developing countries who also have a very unique situation in this regard. The Colombian delegation thus has some ideas on a possible working plan for this subject matter.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to particularly applaud the Office for its efforts and its good functioning, especially with regard to the Action Teams. We are pleased to note the results achieved and an increase of interest on behalf of States. We note an increase in the Esprit de corps which is very much in keeping with the UNISPACE III recommendations and the Committee’s focus. We see that momentum has been maintained and this is very laudable.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, with regard to UNIDROIT, I would like to indicate that this is part of international public law and international private space law and is thus very important as a category of legal international instruments with certain obligations for States that have committed to international public law. This means that it is vital to assure compatibility between the obligations assumed by States and acceptance of space treaties. Whether it be through ratification or through customary law, it should also be recognized by the International Court of Justice itself.
Generally speaking, the number of ratifications of the five United Nations treaties on outer space is very low and this is particularly true for some of them. Thus, it is important to emphasize customary space law, particularly with regard to a broader and more universal acceptance of it. We believe that there are some parallels between the Law of the Sea and space law, beginning with the principle of the idea of a common heritage for mankind, the sea and the province of all mankind, space. Thus, mutatis mutandis are something that can be taken advantage of in terms of institutions and paths for the first and the second. For instance, the interest currently which exists in universal validation, legitimation through a legal instrument of the United Nations through certain investments or financial operations in space recalls the interest awakened in the last decade, in the decade of the 1980s rather, for investments in marine mining. In both cases, it was sought to provide a seal for this and legitimacy, through the United Nations, either through international space law in space.
Mr. Chairman, the view of this delegation is that it will be necessary not simply to have provisions in the preamble of the annex but also in the articles themselves which specifically establish provisions of space private law which are not contained in the basic principles of space law contained in the five space treaties, particularly the Treaty of 1967 and the Convention on International Responsibility for Damages. These principles have also been included in the customary universal space law.
It cannot be said a priori that there are no contradictions between the draft Protocol and the space public law nor that these will not be important in their specific application. That they do require, however, is applicable standards in order to resolve these conflicts. It is clear that the provisions of private law have not come into force but they should through international public law. Thus, the importance of international space law.
And with these words, Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you.
The CHAIRMAN (interpretation from Spanish): I now thank the distinguished Deputy Ambassador of Colombia for his statement. The next speaker on my list is the distinguished representative of Turkey, to whom I now give the floor.
Mr. N. G. ERPUL (Turkey): Thank you Mr. Chairman. At the outset, I would like to congratulate you on your re-election to the chairmanship of the Committee and I would like to thank you for your statement outlining the developments in the work of the Committee that have been achieved since the previous session.
I would like to extend our special thanks to Dr. Walther Lichem for his efforts in conducting intersessional informal consultations and for finalizing the issue of the composition of the Bureaux of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its subsidiary bodies. We believe that the agreement based on a pattern of equitable geographical rotation provides us with a fair solution, taking into account the traditional practice of consensus in the Committee. We also find it useful to establish a group of incoming and outgoing officers to promote and ensure continuity of expertise and experience without prejudice to the role and functions of the Committee and its subsidiary bodies.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to give a brief overview to the Committee about the ongoing space-related activities in Turkey.
Turkey is at the final stage of setting up a space agency that would coordinate and control all civilian and military space activities. In this context, a draft bill which will provide the legal framework for the establishment of the space agency has been prepared. The agency is envisaged to function completely as a civilian establishment under the Prime Ministry.
National space policy, in line with the recent advances in space technology, is in the process of being finalized under the coordination of the Turkish Air Force with the participation of related national organizations and will be issued upon completion.
In parallel to ongoing work to set up a space agency, Turkey has speeded up her efforts to accede to the United Nations treaties on outer space and legislative requirements necessary for accession are continuing as well.
In order to raise public awareness on space activities, Turkey very recently hosted SPACEAN 2003 International Space Exhibition and Conference in Ankara from 6 to 8 May 2003. The activity which drew interest from both civilian and military authorities of many Eurasian countries served as an ideal platform for participating countries to exchange experiences on their space technology and its applications.
Mr. Chairman, the Information Technologies and Electronics Research Institute, BILTEN, a research institute of the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, is the leading institution carrying out space-related activities in Turkey. Space activities of BILTEN may be categorized under two separate headings, one, small satellite projects, and two, remote sensing and geographic information systems activities.
The main purpose of the small satellite project is to provide BILTEN with knowledge and expertise necessary for manufacturing small satellites. The satellite BILSAT-1 is expected to be operational in orbit in July 2003.
A satellite control ground station for the command and control of BILSAT-1 is under construction at BILTEN premises in Ankara. This ground station will be capable of receiving satellite signals in S-Band and UHF bands while transmitting tele-command signals in S-Band and VHF band.
BILTEN will be a partner of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation by means of BILSAT, together with Algeria, China, Nigeria, Thailand and the United Kingdom. In this way, BILSAT products may be used in DMC studies in the framework of UNISPACE III.
Remote sensing and GIS is another area of space-related activities in BILTEN. The Institute has Meteosat SDUS and NOAA HRPT receivers. The group has continued to receive and archive the satellite images since 1996 and these images are used for various remote sensing purposes.
In addition to these, a system for archiving, processing and presenting of satellite images that will eventually be used with the BILSAT satellite system is under development.
Mr. Chairman, spin-offs of space technology have yielded many substantial benefits. Spin-off technologies have resulted in the development and improvement of many products and processes that have a wide range of utilization especially in the health sector, food industry and in the management of natural disasters, in particular earthquakes.
Given the complex nature of advanced technologies, we find it necessary to disseminate information on and promote understanding of the benefits of space science and technology and its applications at all levels of society.
Several universities have Astronomy and Space Science Departments in Turkey. Universities offer studies in the domain of near-ground space sciences in the field of design-structure-material as well as deep space research.
Last but not least, Mr. Chairman, a space camp was established in Izmir in 2001 in order to provide the young people with an understanding of space at an early age. This camp, one of the seven space camps in the world, has been functioning thanks to the contributions from many international organizations and training programmes are supported by modern simulators. Consequently, the camp plays an important role in promoting and popularizing interest for space and astronomy among the young generation.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.

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