Statement at the opening of the 58th session of the UN COPUOS Legal Subcommittee, Vienna, 1-12 April 2019



Legal Subcommittee

58th Session, Vienna, 1 – 12 April 2019

Agenda Item 3

General Exchange of Views

Statement by the German Delegation

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

Germany is grateful to you, Mr. Chairman (Andrzej Misztal) for your excellent leadership throughout the last session of this subcommittee and we are looking forward to working again under your able guidance. We also very much appreciate the outstanding work of UNOOSA not only during the preparation of this session, but with regard to all of the secretariat’s efforts in fulfilling its mandate in a remarkable efficient and ambitious manner. Germany is well aware of the immense range of tasks and the tight resources of the Office and encourages member states to assess means to support the work of the office which is in the interest of all member states.

Sixty years after the first COPUOS meeting the Legal Subcommittee remains to be the main forum to safeguard and develop outer space law, and our work here is ever more important. Although we see rapid developments in the way we explore and use outer space, the rule of international space law governing each and every space activity regardless of its origin or purpose remains consistently valid.

We believe that the five United Nations treaties on outer space form the constitutional basis for present and future space activities. Complemented by additional instruments developed by this committee, the principles enshrined in the five treaties are equally valid for long-standing space nations as well as for emerging new space actors. In order to assist states in their consideration of the legal regime and of acceeding to the outer space treaties, the chair of the „Working Group on the Five UN treaties on Outer Space“ has in close consultation with the secretariat prepared a Draft Guidance Document under UNISPACE+50 Thematic Priority 2. We would like to sincerely thank the secretariat for its support and we are looking forward to a fruitful exchange of views on this issue.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

As Germany assumes the Presidency of the UN Security Council as of this very day, we are compelled to voice our erious concern about any threats to peace and security in outer space, and reiterate that it is in the very best interest of humankind to use outer space peacefully and in a safe and responsible manner.

In this regards, we would like to underline the importance of implementing the Transparency and Confidence Building Measures in Outer Space activities as proposed in 2013 by the Group of Governmental Experts and refraining from any uses of outer space that threaten its long-term sustainability.

International cooperation is the key to using outer space peacefully and preserving it for future generations. The agreement on 21 guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities has been proof that COPUOS is well equipped to tackle the challenges affiliated with increasing space activities and that the international community can reach consensus on many important issues affiliated with the safe and sustainable use of outer space. Germany is convinced that member states need to sustain this constructive and results-oriented exchange and continue the work on the long-term sustainability of outer space activities through a dedicated mechanism such as a working Group.

Many of the subjects to be discussed by this subcommittee are closely connected to the overarching objective of keeping outer space operationally safe and sustain it for future generations. During the following days, our delegation will therefore actively engage on many agenda items such as space debris mitigation and remediation, space traffic management and small-satellite activities. Capacity-building in international space law is especially dear to us. We would like to commend UNOOSA for its valuable activities in this field and we fully support the initiative to enhance its capabilities in this regard. We also look forward to sharing some updates on the „Cologne Commentary on Space Law Project“ under the pertinent Agenda Item.

In preparation of this meeting as well as past sessions, Germany has also submitted written contributions to a number of instruments such as questionnaires on the status of international space law, the compendium on debris mitigation standards and the directory on education opportunities in space law. Taken together, this underlines Germany’s commitment to international cooperation in the field of space law, to strengthening the international regulatory framework and global governance of outer space as well as our unremitting support for COPUOS and UNOOSA.

Mr. Chairman, outer space is a global common. Space resource utilization and exploitation therefore warrant international rules. As space resource utilization becomes feasible, only a multilateral legal framework can provide the necessary legal certainty and secure investments. Consequently, Germany supports the proposal for a Working Group for the Development of an International Regime for the Utilization and Exploitation of Space Resources. We are convinced that a multilateral approach, while never easy, is the most suitable approach to the exploitation of resources in areas beyond national jurisdictions such as outer space. It seems to be the right moment to ensure that future space resource activities are carried out sustainably as well as in the interest and for the benefit of all.

In the margins of this session, Germany is looking forward to actively participating in the „Working Group on the Space2030 agenda“. During the „United Nations / Germany High Level Forum on the Way forward after UNISPACE+50 and on Space 2030“ last November in Bonn it became very clear that international cooperation is the key to bringing the benefits of space to earth. The Space2030 agenda will therefore be a timely instrument for raising awareness on the importance of global space governance and strengthening the contributions of space as a driver for sustainable development. We would like to commend the bureau of the working group supported by the secretariat for their efficient leadership displayed during the previous meeting and we are looking forward to a constructive exchange on the zero draft of the Space2030 Agenda and its implementation plan.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

Last but not least it is my pleasure to invite you to a reception hosted by the German delegation this Thursday evening after the session at Mozart Room here at VIC. This will be an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas on the ways how to strengthen international space governance and we are looking forward to welcoming you there.

Thank you.

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