UN COMMITTEE ON THE PEACEFUL USES OF OUTER SPACE CONCLUDES FORTY-SIXTH SESSION IN VIENNA
A report on the implementation of the UNISPACE III recommendations wa s prepared, and the issue of space debris, the international satellite system for search and rescue, and satellite-based telemedicine were discussed.
VIENNA, 24 June (UN Information Service) -- The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) held its forty-sixth sessio n in Vienna from 11 to 20 June 2003. The Committee finalized the outline of the report on the implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III, w hich will be submitted to the General Assembly in 2004. The Committee re viewed and endorsed the reports of both the Scientific and Technical and the L egal Subcommittee. Other matters that were discussed included the issue of space debris and the international satellite system for search and rescue. The Committee also saw a live demonstration of satellite-based telemedicine .
Implementation of UNISPACE III recommendations
The Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was held in 1999. Eleven action teams were establis hed to report on progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the conference. Each of the eleven action teams reported to the Commit tee on their particular area, on issues such as a global environmental monito ring strategy, the activities of the International GPS Service, and new and innovative sources of funding. A new action team on knowledge-shari ng was established, which will in particular deal with issues related to brid ging the digital divide. Based on the input submitted by the eleven action teams, as well as input from UN system Organizations and NGOs workin g in areas related to Outer Space, the Committee will submit a report to the General Assembly, for the "plus 5" review of the UNISPACE III conferenc e in 2004. The outline of this report was finalized at this session.
International Satellite system for Search and Rescue
The Committee considered the activities of the International Satel lite System for Search and Rescue (COSPAS-SARSAT). The system provides di stress alert and location information to search and rescue, for aviation, mari time and land users in distress, working world-wide, with no discrimination and free of charge, using satellite systems to relay and process the transmissions of distress radio-beacons. COSPAS-SARSAT has been in use since 1982 and has assisted in over 4,500 search and rescue eve nts, involving the rescue of over 15,000 lives, and is therefore an excel lent example of international cooperation in using space technology for the benefit of humankind.
Satellite-based live telemedicine demonstration
The United Nations Programme on Space Applications in cooperation with Joanneum Research and the Technical University of Graz conducted a live interactive demonstration of satellite-based telemedicine to the Commit tee. A transportable satellite station was installed at the Vienna Internati onal Centre, and the satellite signal received by the station was further be amed in to the room in which interactive equipment was installed. The demonstration showed an example of high-speed transfer of comp uter tomography images and parallel tele-consultancy: this is where med ical experts communicate with each other in a video conference, possibly du ring a surgery. The use of satellite-based telemedicine is expect ed to significantly improve medical services, particularly in areas where the necessary infrastructure is not available, such as rural and isol ated areas.
The Committee saw a presentation by Italy on the management of the re-entry of an Italian scientific satellite called Beppo SAX into the atmosphere in 2003. Based on the example of Beppo SAX, the presen tation included lessons learned and recommendations for future re-entrie s of obsolete spacecraft, in particular concerning information strategy and risk management. The Committee agreed that international cooperation was needed to expand appropriate and affordable strategies to minimise the poten tial impact of space debris on future space missions. The Committee req uested all its Member States to study the proposals of the Inter-Agency S pace Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), which had been presented at the session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee earlier this year . It was agreed that Member States would provide their comments on the propo sals to the Office for Outer Space Affairs before the next session of the Subcommittee early next year, at which a working group would be establi shed to consider these comments.
Nuclear power sources in Outer Space
The Committee noted that an exchange of views had taken place in the Legal Subcommittee on the review and possible revision of the Princi ples Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space. The issu e will be further discussed at the Subcommittee Sessions early next year.
The legal concept of the "launching State"
A proposal for a draft General Assembly resolution on this issue was submitted to the Committee. The Committee agreed that a revised text of the draft will be further discussed by the Legal Subcommittee during its next session in early 2004. The concept of the "launching State" has imp ortant legal implications, because the United Nations treaties governing the peaceful uses of Outer Space impose obligations on launching Sta tes, regarding in particular the registration of objects launched into sp ace, and liability for any damages caused.
Space and water
The Committee adopted a new agenda item titled "Space and water" for its session next year. Over 1 billion people worldwide lack access t o safe drinking water. If current trends persist, two-thirds of the w orld's population will be living with serious water shortages by the year 2 025. The Committee will explore ways in which space agencies and o ther organizations could work together to find ways to facilitate internati onal cooperation in the development and use of water resources, u sing space-based data.
Bureaux of the Committee and its Subcommittees for 2004
The Committee appointed the following officers for the Bureaux of the Committee and its Subcommittees for 2004 and 2005:
Chairman: Adigun Ade Abiodun (Nigeria) First Vice-Chairman: Ciro Arevalo Yepes (Colombia) Second Vice-Chairman/Rapporteur: Parviz Tarikhi (Islamic Republic of Iran)
Scientific and Technical Subcommittee:
Chairman: Dumitru Dorin Prunariu (Romania)
Chairman: Sergio Marchisio
Candidature for Membership
The Committee agreed to consider the candidature for membership of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, endorsed by the Group of African states, at its next session.
Membership of the Committee
The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space currently has the following Member States: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Aust ria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, C had, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Fra nce, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Ja pan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Moro cco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippi nes, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, S audi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Su dan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Un ited States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.
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