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Fourth Committee of the 54th General Assembly

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  • Statement by Mr. Jan Kara, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, on Agenda Item 87, International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

    New York, October 29, 1999


Statement by Mr. Jan Kara, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, on Agenda Item 87, International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

Mr. Chairman,

Since the Czech Republic associated itself with the statement of the European Union presented by Finland earlier this week, I can confine myself to just a few points my delegation wishes to highlight under this agenda item..

I would like to start, Mr. Chairman, by briefly outlining some of the outer space activities in the Czech Republic which have a long tradition and which include scientific missions in astronomy, geophysics and other space-related fields. Let me, for instance, mention here the series of microsatellites MAGION 1 - 5, the last of them being launched in 1996. A new satellite is now under construction. The Czech Republic participates also in the INTEGRAL Mission of the European Space Agency and in a joint venture on a hard x-ray spectrometer with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In the course of past years, remote sensing imagery have been used for many purposes, among others in monitoring and assessment of natural disasters.

A closer cooperation of the Czech Republic with other European countries has been enabled by conclusion of the Agreement on Cooperation with the European Space Agency. At present we are in the phase of joining the European Space Agency Programme PRODEX.

Mr. Chairman,

I can t but continue with the event of the decade for the space related community - the Third United Nations Conference on Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space - UNISPACE III - held on July 19-30, 1999, in Vienna, Austria, and the Exhibition of Space Science and Technology organized in parallel with the Conference in the first week of its duration. After long seventeen years it gave us a full-fledged opportunity to evaluate present state of international cooperation in exploration and peaceful uses of outer space, and to consider ways and means for further development and improvement of respective programmes and policies which will lead us into the 21st century. The Conference culminated in adoption of the Vienna Declaration which incorporated both recommendations of the Regional Conferences and the Technical Forum into its conclusion and which we fully subscribe.

Let me now, Mr. Chairman, say a few words on possible future conduct of business in the COPUOS and both its Subcommittees. Since the beginning of the space era, the United Nations have been instrumental in developing international space cooperation and laid down a basis for endeavors of humankind in the space environment. The results of the effort of the World Organization, particularly the COPUOS, in this field have been reflected in the UN space treaties and sets of principles. Yet, some of the UN space treaties have received only a limited adherence thus far. This is why we welcome the present review of the status of the existing international legal instruments which has been conducted by the Legal Subcommittee. This examination could not only encourage acceptance of the UN space treaties by further States and international organizations but could also lead to the identification of new problems and to the negotiations on additional agreements.

Mr. Chairman,

One of the far-reaching changes which developed over the last several years is the amount of objects in space which terminated their useful activities and at present pose a certain risk to active satellites, to the services provided from space, and also to the life and safety of astronauts. I am referring to space debris which constitute at present over 90 % of all traceable objects. The term space debris does not appear in the UN space treaties and it has not been explicitly stated whether space debris should enjoy a legal protection or not, i.e. whether they still remain a valuable property of the launching States or have become fragments which should be disposed of. We appreciate the work of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee on space debris, in particular the Technical Report which is a good basis for future work by COPUOS on this issue.

Many delegations in the COPUOS and both its subcommittees have felt for a longer time that their work might become more productive if their respective agendas could be restructured and the methods of their work improved. It is our opinion that based upon the conclusions of the Conference UNISPACE III both subcommittees should closely cooperate and strengthen mutual working contacts when considering similar issues. We do believe this goal is achievable.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman