Summary: 21 October 2009, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union by Mr. Staffan Hemrå, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations, at the Fourth Committee General Debate on International Cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, United Nations
Thank you Madame Chairman,
I speak on behalf of the European Union.
In addition, the Candidate Countries Croatia*, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Turkey, the Countries of Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Ukraine Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align with this statement.
This year mark the 40th anniversary of the first man on the moon. During this period, space technology has proven essential not only for exploring outer space, but to address many of the global challenges facing us today. An effective international space cooperation is therefore of importance to all of us.
Space technology has become crucial in delivering communications services to some of the most isolated regions of the world, and is used by many to create national communications structures. Space technology is also used, and has the potential to be used even more, in forecasting and preventing natural disasters. In the same line, space technology can be used to more accurately measure phenomena linked to climate change, and also mitigate their effects.
Since its inception, the EU has been following closely the development of the UN SPIDER programme. The implementation of the programme is central in ensuring that all countries have access to and develop the capacity to use space based information during all phases of disaster management, including the risk reduction phase.
The growing number of actors in outer space is welcome, but could also pose a risk to the security of space assets. While additional legally binding multilateral commitments have been proposed against military threats, we need to find ways of reaching progress in the short term and against all types of threats. Voluntary confidence and transparency building measures would allow relatively rapid adherence by a larger number of countries and could bring effective security benefits.
In this spirit, the European Union has proposed a draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities, based on three principles: freedom for all to use outer space for peaceful purposes, preservation of the security and integrity of space objects in orbit, and due consideration for the legitimate security and defence needs of States.
The purpose of this code is to enhance the safety, security and predictability of outer space activities for all. In codifying best practices, the code contributes to transparency and confidence building measures and is complementary to the existing framework regulating outer space activities.
The EU is concerned by the issue of space debris, and finds states implementation of the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) and Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the Committee important. We also need to draw attention to the problem of collisions of space objects, including those with nuclear power sources.
The Committee for Peaceful Uses of Outer Space plays a key role in the dissemination of information on, and promotion of, peaceful uses of outer space. The European Union welcomes the conclusions of the 52nd session of the Committee and the agreement to include two new agenda items entitled "International Space Weather Initiative" and "Long-term sustainability of outer space activities" for the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee.
The EU welcomes the report of the Committee which we have before us today. We would once again like to underline the need for communication between the Committee and the Conference on Disarmament regarding outer space activities, in order to ensure a coherent approach and complementarity.
The cooperation between the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and IAEA in preparing the Safety Framework for Nuclear Power Sources Applications in Outer space is one good example of successful inter-agency cooperation within the UN.
The European Union continues its process on its global navigation systems Galileo and EGNOS. We are delighted to announce that the EGNOS' satellite navigation signal as of October 1, is operationally ready as an open and free service.
It is also encouraging to see the progress made by the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG) towards achieving compatibility and interoperability among global and regional space based positioning, navigation and timing systems. The next meeting of ICG will be held in Italy, with the host country and the European Commission being joint organizers.
The European Union is underlining the importance of measures to help the transparency, confidence and security of outer space activities and considers the universalization and implementation of relevant agreements and treaties to be of the utmost importance. The European Union voted unanimously for the General Assembly resolutions on Transparency and Confidence building Measures in Outer Space (UNGA 63/68) and on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (UNGA 63/40).
Lastly, the EU would like to welcome the new and more streamlined format of the draft resolution before us, presented by Colombia.
All states need to actively contribute to the promotion and strengthening of international cooperation relating to the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. I assure you, Mr Chairman, of the European Union's continued constructive participation.
I thank you.
* Croatia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.