24 May 2011
Gagarin: The 50th Anniversary of the First Manned Mission to Space
Dear Cosmonaut Yurchikhin
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a pleasure to welcome you all for this exhibition which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first manned mission to space by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. I particularly thank the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation and the Russian Federal Space Agency for organizing this special event.
As you will see in the exhibition, this historic event opened the way for space exploration for the benefit of all humanity. Gagarin’s flight to space was a breakthrough in the mentality of all mankind since it became a leap forward in the development of global science. Space science and space applications are now used in weather forecasting, disaster mitigation, environmental protection, provision of humanitarian aid, epidemics control, long-distance education, sustainable development and communication and navigation.
It was for this reason that the General Assembly adopted a very important resolution declaring 12 April as the International Day of Human Space Flight. This reaffirmed the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples.
When Gagarin’s flight took place at the height of the Cold War, who could have imagined that, one day, more than 15 nations would work together in the world’s permanent space outpost – the International Space Station. Indeed, the full exploration and peaceful use of space requires collaboration from all nations.
The United Nations has over the years played an important role in the promotion of the peaceful and collaborative use of outer space through the efforts of the Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Since 1959, two years before Gagarin made his orbit, the Committee has developed five treaties and five principles governing the use of outer space. It has also helped States to develop their capabilities to use space technology for sustainable development.
Here in Geneva, the Conference on Disarmament has a particularly important role to play in the prevention of an arms race in outer space, which is one of its core agenda items. I take this opportunity to express my hope that the substantive work, including with a view to constraining possible military competition in space, will soon start.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Half a century after the inauguration of the space age, we have a distinct opportunity to safeguard the secure and sustainable use of space.
Let Gagarin’s example guide us. Fifty years have passed since that amazing voyage, but the legend of Gagarin’s courage and journey to the ‘final frontier’ continues to be a source of inspiration for space exploration for peoples and nations around the world. I am sure that the photos here and the achievement that they represent will inspire us for continued cooperation for peace and security.
It is my great privilege to declare this beautiful and important exhibition open.
Thank you for your attention.