Realizing Goals of 2030 Agenda, Assurance of Global Security Require Sharing of Space Technologies, Fourth Committee Hears, as Debate Concludes

16 OCTOBER 2015

Realizing the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the assurance of global security required the sharing of outer space technologies and the adoption of an international code of conduct for their application, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today, as it concluded its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

Many delegations expressed support for the principle of non-appropriation of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and its non‐militarization, saying that space-based technology held immense potential to benefit developed and developing countries alike. The United Nations needed to promote equal, non-discriminatory access to outer space activities, irrespective of levels of social, economic or scientific development, they stressed.

Noting that space activities could assist with programmes in such areas as agriculture, water, telemedicine and global health, El Salvador’s representative welcomed proposals by the European Union and other countries for the creation of a code of conduct on outer space activities. However, multilateral negotiations to that end must be inclusive and held under the auspices of the United Nations, he stressed.

In the same vein, Nigeria’s representative said many developed countries had been taking steps to enhance and promote the capabilities of developing nations in space-based technology through training in the fields of telecommunications, meteorology and remote sensing. All those applications had played an invaluable role in the monitoring of desert encroachment upon the Sahel region of Africa, he noted.

Also in relation to mutual collaboration, India’s representative said his country had taken up a project with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to establish a ground station in Viet Nam for receiving, processing and using data from Indian satellites for a variety of applications, including disaster management support.

Israel’s representative said his country had recently undertaken, with a civil society partner, the provision of Internet access to sub-Saharan African nations via the Israeli AMOS-6
communications satellite. That important venture would provide those in the developing world with equal access to the opportunities offered by modern communications technology, he added.
Other countries, however, warned against overcrowding in outer space and its potential militarization. Ecuador’s representative urged the Outer Space Committee to seek the creation of a treaty that would prohibit the deployment of weapons in outer space because a growing number of actors could create complications in that regard. “A few Member States should not have security at the cost of everyone else on the planet,” he emphasized.

The Russian Federation’s representative said that some Member States regrettably lacked the solidarity to contribute to long-overdue positive changes in space security. Both France, the initiator of the agenda item, and the United States, which had supported it, had difficulties in grasping the various safety aspects of space operations, while the Russian Federation believed in focusing on those essential elements.

In response, the representative of the United States said that both his own country and France had been leaders in developing guidelines on the long-term sustainability of space activities, and any allegations to the contrary were “appalling”. Turning to six applications for membership of the Outer Space Committee, he said it was unfortunate that that matter had been politicized during the Committee’s last session. “These six United Nations Member States deserve better treatment,” he said, adding, in that regard, that his delegation had introduced a draft decision proposing to increase the Committee’s membership.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said that peaceful uses of outer space rested on a conviction that progress in that field should result in lasting benefits for humankind. Contrary to international efforts to promote those activities, however, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to abuse its right to outer space as a pretext to develop its ballistic missile technology, she noted, urging that country to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant Security Council resolutions.

Her counterpart from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea described recent developments in national space activities, including the establishment of that country’s new General Satellite Control Centre. Such peaceful efforts were taking place in the face of “ceaseless challenges and obstructions of hostile forces”. He said the United States was putting pressure on his country on the basis of faults it had found with its satellite launch, which the United States said were in violation of Security Council resolutions.

Also speaking today were representatives of Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, Libya, Philippines, Cameroon, Algeria, Argentina, China, Iran and Japan.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene Thursday, 22 October, at 3 p.m., to resume general debate on International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.