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Benefits of Exploration Crucial for Eradicating Poverty, Say Speakers, As Fourth Committee Takes up International Cooperation in Outer Space

Many Delegates Underscore Importance of Preventing Arms Race, Militarization

Harnessing the benefits of space science and technology was crucial for the global effort to eradicate poverty and realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 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 delegates noted that the application of space technologies had improved efforts to manage disaster and natural resources, protect the environment, monitor oceans and climate, and eradicate poverty.  The representative of the United States said that space exploration by States, international organizations and private entities had flourished, contributing immeasurably to economic growth and improved quality of life around the world.

A number of speakers cited the principle of non-appropriation and non‑militarization of outer space, while underscoring the need for equal and non-discriminatory access to space activities and benefits, irrespective of their levels of social, economic or scientific development.

El Salvador’s representative urged countries to share information and refrain from using space for their own benefit.  Space must be used exclusively for peaceful exploration and for the benefit of all societies, he said, adding that the knowledge gained could be used to prevent disasters, tackle climate change and improve food security, agriculture, health and education, in addition to meeting the needs of vulnerable societies.

However, that promising picture was darkened by a growing trend towards militarization, said Cameroon’s representative, noting that certain Powers were pursuing an arms race in outer space.  Echoing that sentiment, Cuba’s speaker declared:  “We need to ensure that outer space is not a place for weapons.”

In similar vein, the representative of the United Arab Emirates said all States must pursue outer space activities in a spirit of responsibility and transparency in order to enhance confidence and security.  He stressed the need to enhance the provisions of international law relating to outer space in order to prevent an arms race.

Sharing regional experiences, the European Union’s representative said the bloc had provided free services in the area of global navigation and earth observation, with a view to realizing the 2030 Agenda.  Its state-of-the-art Galileo satellite navigation system provided advanced navigation and positioning services, while the highly accurate observation services of its Copernicus system provided early warning of floods and forest fires, as well as reliable maps derived from satellite images.

Bangladesh had recently completed the necessary groundwork for launching its own communications satellite, “Bangabandhu I”, by the end of 2017, that country’s representative said.  It would provide services to all South Asian countries as well as those in South East and Central Asia, if its frequency was properly coordinated.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said that, while all members of the international community were faithfully committed to the peaceful use of outer space, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to violate a number of Security Council resolutions.  Any attempt by that country to justify its activities must be denounced as illegitimate and illegal, even if characterized as a satellite launch or space launch vehicle, she stressed.

Her counterpart representing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea expressed pride in his country’s entry into the rank of outer space Powers, noting that the Government had acceded to and signed a series of treaties and agreements to encourage the peaceful use of outer space, adding that the earth observation satellite “Kwangmyongsong 4” had been officially registered at the United Nations.  Rejecting sanctions imposed on his country as irrelevant to Security Council objectives, he said that peaceful and lawful satellite launches were a fair exercise of his country’s sovereignty.

Also speaking today were representatives of Palau, Ukraine, Namibia, China, Algeria, Nigeria and Japan.

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

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 14 October, to begin its consideration of questions relating to information.

Statements

DIDIER LENOIR, European Union, said the regional bloc had provided free services in the area of global navigation and earth observation, with a view to realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Galileo’s advanced navigation and positioning services as well as the highly accurate observation services of Copernicus might increase efficiency in agriculture and fisheries, reduce hunger, improve the health of citizens through remote medical support and tackle climate change.  As a state-of-the-art satellite navigation system, Galileo provided a highly accurate and guaranteed global positioning system under civilian control, he said, citing the launch of 14 Galileo satellites and advanced ocean and coastal navigation.  On the other hand, Copernicus provided early warning of floods and forest fires, and reliable maps derived from satellite images.

He went on to state that the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme addressed such global societal challenges as sustainable development, climate change and environmental action through research and innovation-related activities and international cooperation.  Describing space sustainability as a third key priority for the bloc, he emphasized the need to preserve a safe and secure space environment and to ensure peaceful use of outer space on a mutually acceptable basis.  Recent years had seen a sharp increase in the amount of orbital debris as well as the potential for destructive collisions, he said, adding that the European Union had increased its international cooperation and created a framework to support the delivery of space surveillance and tracking services.

RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) expressed concern over the militarization of outer space, saying it posed a grave threat to the future of humanity.  “We need to ensure that outer space is not a place for weapons.”  There was also a need to define the limits of outer space, he said, voicing concern about the existing legal gap and attempts by developed countries to militarize outer space.  Particularly important was the creation of guidelines that would ensure the sustainability of outer space.  In that regard, he commended efforts to fulfil that aim, noting that the outcome document on the matter would be submitted to the General Assembly in 2018.  Among other things, he noted that the geostationary orbit was a limited natural resource, and expressed concern about space debris.

CALEB OTTO (Palau) said that, as a small island developing State, her country had virtually no capacity to join in space exploration or the development of space science and technology.  However, it was benefitting from the scientific and technical development of others in such areas as transportation, communications, weather forecasting and remote surveillance of its exclusive economic zone, among other things.  She welcomed the report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, its progress in developing the “Guidelines for the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities” and the consensus agreement on Part I of those Guidelines.  Palau urged the Outer Space Committee to redouble its efforts to complete Part II before the fiftieth anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 2018.

MAMOUDOU MANA (Cameroon) said that space science and technology was playing an increasingly crucial role in satellite navigation, disaster prevention and management and meteorological forecasting, among other areas.  Its role was all the more important because those applications provided indispensable tools for ensuring sustainable development.  States should seek to harness their benefits in order to meet the challenges posed by climate change and natural disasters.  Unfortunately, that promising picture was darkened by the growing trend towards the militarization of space, he said, noting that certain Powers were pursuing an arms race there.  The international community must examine the safe and sustainable use of space in detail, strengthen cooperation and ensure the rule of law, including by developing relevant norms of space law.  Cameroon supported the relevant recommendations of the General Assembly and took particular account of the needs of developing countries as well as those of countries facing a massive influx of refugees.  Those countries required particular assistance in such areas as weather forecasting and tele-medicine, he said.

OLEKSIY ILNYTSKYI (Ukraine) said the sustainability of outer space would not be possible without international cooperation and the active engagement of all countries.  Cooperation must be carried out in full compliance with existing international treaties, he said, emphasizing that the militarization of outer space must be prevented.  Since space science and technology provided indispensable tools for attaining sustainable development, it was crucial to enhance further cooperation and coordination in such areas as disaster management and emergency response.  Sharing national experiences, he said the space agencies of Ukraine and Kazakhstan were cooperating in the fields of remote sensing, rocket manufacture, space research, as well as the monitoring and analysis of the space environment.  Furthermore, Ukraine continued its cooperation on space exploration with the European Union through the exchange of information, he said, adding that two Ukrainian State enterprises had developed the cruise engine for the fourth stage of his country’s launch vehicle.

KENNETH HODGKINS (United States) noted that space exploration by States, international organizations and private entities had flourished under the legal framework of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its Legal Subcommittee.  As a result, space technology had contributed immeasurably to economic growth and to improvements in the quality of life around the world.  As the only standing United Nations body concerned exclusively with the peaceful uses of outer space, the Outer Space Committee had been extremely successful in advancing the peaceful exploration and use of outer space for the benefit of all humanity, he said.

RUBEN IGNACIO ZAMORA RIVAS (El Salvador), emphasizing the need to promote and foster international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, urged countries to share information and refrain from using space for their own benefit.  The use of outer space must be exclusively for peaceful exploration and the benefit of all societies.  The knowledge gained must be used to prevent disasters, tackle climate change, improve food security, agriculture, health and education as well as meet the needs of vulnerable societies.  El Salvador commended the activities of the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) through its regional support office, and acknowledged the benefits of satellite technology and geo-navigation, he said.

WILFRIED I. EMVULA (Namibia) said that since his country was one of the last places on the planet with vast plains inhabited by rare species, space technology was an important tool that could assist its Government in spatial planning, as well as the conservation of animals and the desert.  The protection of such areas was directly linked to climate change, he said, emphasizing the need for cooperation in helping to prevent the rise in global temperatures, as provided for in the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Moreover, peaceful use of outer space could help many African countries enhance their efforts to combat the poaching of rare species, and to protect endangered flora and fauna, he said.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh) said that, as a climate-vulnerable “delta” exposed to frequent natural disasters, his country continued to reap dividends from its investment in space research and remote sensing, particularly in terms of managing disasters, protecting the environment, managing natural resources and monitoring the impact of climate change.  The Government had recently completed the necessary groundwork for launching its own communications satellite, “Bangabandhu I”, by the end of 2017, partly with the cooperation of France, Russian Federation, United States and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).  The satellite would be able to provide services to all South Asian countries as well as those in South East and Central Asia, if its frequency was properly coordinated.  The Government and the authority regulating telecommunications were working to establish a public limited venture to manage the satellite’s commercial operations, he said, acknowledging the cooperation in in national capacity-building that his country had received from such organizations as the Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organization and the Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education.

YOON SEONG-MEE (Republic of Korea) said that, in preparation for the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the Outer Space Committee had been engaged in a debate on the need to align the decades-old space legal regime with the new reality in outer space.  The initial Guidelines for the Long Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities had laid the groundwork, allowing related activities to prosper.  She expressed hope that consensus would soon be reached on the second set of guidelines.  Noting that all members of the international community were faithfully committed to the peaceful uses of outer space, she said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to violate a number of Security Council resolutions.  Any attempt by that country to justify its activities must be denounced as illegitimate and illegal, even if characterized as a satellite launch or space launch vehicle, she stressed.

Ms. PAN KUN (China) noted with satisfaction that the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space had adopted seven priority themes to help improve its work, in addition to draft articles of the Guidelines for Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities.  On the basis of mutual benefit, China had continuously expanded its international cooperation in outer space, she said, adding that the Government had actively facilitated the construction of the “Space Information Corridor”, promoted the construction of remote sensing satellite constellations and supported the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organizations in building joint multitasking satellite constellations.  China remained firmly opposed to an arms race in outer space, she said, emphasizing its strong support for negotiations on an international treaty to prevent one.

PAK CHOL JIN (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) expressed pride in his country’s having entered the rank of outer space Powers in 18 years.  Its National Aerospace Development Administration had successfully launched the earth observation satellite “Kwangmyongsong 4” into orbit in February under a five-year development plan.  That satellite was equipped with measurement and communications instruments that transmitted earth observation images, he said.  The Government had acceded to and signed a series of treaties and agreements to encourage the peaceful use of outer space, and “Kwangmyongsong 4” had been officially registered at the United Nations.  However, the United States had made “vicious attempts” to disturb the legal development of outer space, he said, adding that it had characterized his country’s satellite launch as a violation of Security Council resolutions prohibiting the use of ballistic technologies for launches.  Describing the sanctions imposed on his country as irrelevant to Council objectives, he emphasized that no existing international laws stipulated that satellite launches employing ballistic rocket launch technology posed a threat to international peace and security.  Peaceful and lawful satellite launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were a fair exercise of its sovereignty, he said, adding that additional working satellites would be boosted into orbit under its Aerospace Development Programme.

MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria) said his country had launched its national space programme, “Horizon 2020”, in 2006, with the aim of developing its industrial capacities and knowledge, promoting development goals and international cooperation.  The project had seen increased recent activity, and in September, Algeria had successfully launched three satellites – “Alsat-1B”, “Alsat-2B” and “Alsat-1N” – into orbit with the aim of strengthening specific national capacities in protecting the environment, monitoring desertification as well as land and coastal management.  Several development projects to apply such space technologies as Geographic Information Systems had been implemented.  Education and research in those spheres continued to focus particular attention on the autonomous implementation of such projects.  To develop capacity, Algeria was promoting high-level doctoral education in space technology and participation in international programmes, such as workshops organized by the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs.  Algeria provided disaster-management support to countries in North Africa and the Sahel through the regional support office of UN-SPIDER, he said.

ANTHONY BOSAH (Nigeria) said the application of space science and technology had improved efforts in disaster- and natural-resource management, environmental protection, ocean and climate monitoring and poverty eradication.  Indeed, harnessing the benefits of space technology was crucial for global efforts to eradicate poverty and implementation of the 2030 Agenda form Sustainable Development.  Emphasizing the fundamental role played by the Outer Space Committee in promoting transparency and building confidence among States, he said collaboration and cooperation were fundamental to achieving the responsible conduct of space activities and the use of space science and technology.  As part of its efforts to further cooperation, Nigeria had hosted the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for English Speaking African Countries at Ile-Ife, and had trained more than 200 participants from 19 countries, he said.

AHMED ABDELRAHMAN AHMED ALMAHMOUD (United Arab Emirates) said that, in addition to its importance in the areas of communications, navigation and media broadcasting, outer space had become an important element in monitoring climate change and desertification, disaster management and improving the management of natural resources.  “All States must pursue their activities in outer space with a spirit of responsibility and transparency, in order to enhance confidence and security measures,” he said, adding:  “The provisions of international law on outer space should be enhanced in order to curb an arms race.”  Sharing national experiences, he said that his country had adopted a national policy document with a view to building a strong and sustainable space sector that could help in diversifying the economy and developing scientific capacities.  Furthermore, the Emirates Mars Mission, the first Arab and Islamic project of its kind, aimed to find answers to a number of questions that had never been sought by any previous missions.  The United Arab Emirates Space Agency had prepared a strategic plan for advancing the outer space sector while forging partnerships to strengthen national expertise, he said.

YOSHINORI TAKEDA (Japan) said his country had made efforts to strengthen regional cooperation through such initiatives as the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum, the twenty-second session of which had been held in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2015, with 28 countries and 10 international organizations participating.  At its twenty-third session, in Manila next month, the Philippines would report on its first microsatellite, “DIWATA-1”, jointly developed with Japanese universities and successfully launched into orbit in April, from the International Space Station’s Japanese experimental module “Kibo”.  Japan had decided to extend its participation in the International Space Station’s operations until 2024 and continued to contribute through the “Kibo” as well as the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI”.  Also, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency had initiated the three-year “KiboCUBE” programme, he said, adding that it provided educational and research institutions in developing Member States with an opportunity to deploy their micro-satellites using the unique capabilities of “Kibo”.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, stressed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was getting ready to mount a nuclear war.  Its intentions were clear, she added, noting that its satellite launches could not be for peaceful uses.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea categorically rejected the Republic of Korea’s claims as politicized.  “Space is a common place for everyone,” he said, emphasizing that the peaceful use of outer space was a lawful right.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had made clear that it did not intend to comply with the Charter, adding that it would be necessary to scrutinize that country’s United Nations membership if it continued such violations.  She called on all States to avoid any technical cooperation with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ballistic technology-driven launches.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said its satellites had been launched for peaceful purposes, a sovereign right recognized under international law.  The Republic of Korea had stressed the importance of the peaceful use of outer space, as had other countries, but it merely followed the militarization of the United States.  That country would do better to reflect on its mistakes and recognize the right of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to launch, and take pride in its capabilities rather than criticizing them unnecessarily.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would continue to vigorously accelerate its National Aerospace Development Programme, in accordance with international law, he emphasized.

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