Utilization of space resources to be included in United Nations international space law discussions

VIENNA, April 19, 2016 (UN Information Service) – Space traffic management has become a topic of growing importance and was also addressed at the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), a unique international forum for governments to discuss the laws governing outer space. With outer space becoming more and more congested owing to the growing number of objects, actors and space activities, ensuring safe and sustainable space operations is increasingly becoming a challenge.

Similarly, the increased number of small satellites in outer space requires the review of relevant regulations. The Legal Subcommittee decided to continue discussing the legal implications of the growth in small satellite activities. Small satellites are of growing importance and have given unprecedented access to developing countries and many new entities with limited funds to join in the exploration and peaceful use of outer space. They also play an important role in raising awareness of and interest in space science among students and researchers.

Finally, the international forum agreed to introduce a new discussion item on potential legal models for activities in the exploration, exploitation and utilization of space resources.

The Legal Subcommittee also made progress in its contribution to the preparations for “UNISPACE+50" in 2018, marking fifty years since the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was held in Vienna in 1968. The subcommittee agreed to a thematic priority on current and future perspectives on the legal regime of outer space and global space governance, to promote the universality of the five United Nations treaties on outer space and analyse the effectiveness of space law in the 21st century. The Subcommittee also made recommendations on actions and events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty in 2017.

Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), said: “These items in the work of the Legal Subcommittee perfectly mirror the rapid development and evolution in the space sector and demonstrate the need for the international community to discuss new trends and emerging legal issues.”

Documents, digital recordings and presentations of the Subcommittee's 55th session, which concluded on 15 April, are available at: http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/copuos/lsc/2016/index.html 

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