18 October 2016, New York – European Union Statement by Ms. Judit Körömi, Chair of the EU Working Party for Non-Proliferation (CONOP), United Nations General Assembly 71st Session First Committee Thematic Discussion on Outer Space
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- I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
- The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
- The European Union and its Member States continue to promote the preservation of a safe and secure space environment and the peaceful use of outer space on an equitable and mutually acceptable basis. The EU recognises the outer space as a global common good, to be used for the benefit of mankind.
- The EU and its Member States are increasingly important users of outer space. The EU has developed two ambitious Space programmes, Galileo and Copernicus, which complement national space programmes and provide services free of charge which can contribute to realising the 2030 Agenda and its sustainable development goals. The EU also benefits from other European space programmes of its Member States and the European Space Agency. Furthermore, European space actors increasingly engage in international cooperation to help other countries mobilise space for sustainable development. Later this year, the EU will adopt a new Space Strategy for Europe, which will set out Europe’s ambitions in space and confirm that we remain an active and globally engaged partner. Based on the values and principles enshrined in UN treaties, the EU will work alongside with its Member States and partners to promote and protect the sustainable and peaceful use of space by all nations.
- Recent years have seen a considerable increase in the use of outer space with a corresponding increase in orbital debris and in potentially destructive collisions. The existing governance frameworks and rules that seek to guarantee a sustainable use of space for all nations are increasingly under strain. Ever more space actors, including private companies, are placing more objects in space. But they are adhering to different standards.
- The number of objects in space is sharply increasing. The international regulatory environment no longer suffices. We need new common principles and a long-term answer to preserve the integrity of the space environment. The European Union therefore calls for increased international cooperation that should help us establish agreed standards of responsible behaviour in outer space. The European Union’s new Global Strategy reconfirms this commitment.
- We remain convinced that Transparency and Confidence Building Measures can make an important contribution to the security, safety and sustainability of activities in outer space to preserve the integrity of space environment for all. This is a reason why the EU proposed some years ago an international Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. The EU believes that a non-legally binding agreement negotiated within the United Nations could be a way to proceed.
- Globally shaped principles of responsible behaviour across the full range of space activities should serve long term goals: to increase international cooperation in space, to commit mutually to non-interference in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, to facilitate an equitable access to outer space and increase transparency in the conduct of space activities. The EU and its Member States will continue to show commitment in these areas, which are important to our security and our prosperity.
- A very important aspect of sustainability is the work that has been carried out by the COPUOS Working Group on Long Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities. We commend the members and the Chair of that Working Group for their excellent work and the tangible progress achieved. In June 2016, the Committee broadly agreed to move ahead with a first set of guidelines while requesting the LTS Working Group to continue to consider the remaining guidelines. Further progress was made at the Intersessional Meeting of the Working Group in September 2016. The EU and its Member States welcome these positive developments and will continue to fully support the process.
- Preventing an arms race in outer space and preventing outer space from becoming an area of conflict is essential to safeguard the long-term use of the space environment for peaceful purposes. The EU remains strongly committed to the prevention of an arms race in outer space. Therefore all EU Member States voted last year in favour of UNGA Resolution 70/26 regarding the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS).
- In our view, the updated draft on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT) does not represent the appropriate basis for substantive work in the Conference on Disarmament on PAROS. A new legally binding instrument would need to be comprehensive, effective and verifiable. Regarding the initiative on the “No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space” (NFP), we are equally concerned that it does not adequately respond to the objective of strengthening trust and confidence between States.
- The resolution on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures (TCBMs) in Outer Space Activities, which is co-sponsored by all EU Member States and traditionally adopted by consensus, demonstrates the shared sense of urgency in the international community and responsibility for preserving outer space for the peaceful use by all humankind. The EU will spare no effort in this regard and stands ready to work with all UN Member States in advancing space security and space governance.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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