Where global solutions are shaped for you | News & Media | CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT CONCLUDES DISCUSSION ON THE PREVENTION OF AN ARMS RACE IN OUTER SPACE

ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT CONCLUDES DISCUSSION ON THE PREVENTION OF AN ARMS RACE IN OUTER SPACE

Holds Last Plenary under the Presidency of Viet Nam
15 August 2019

The Conference on Disarmament this morning concluded its discussion on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, which it started on 14 August. This was the last plenary under the presidency of Viet Nam.

At the beginning of the dialogue on the prevention of an arms race in outer space yesterday, the Conference heard statements from the three panellists, Gennady Gatilov, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Juan Eduardo Eguiguren, Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations Office at Geneva, and Daniel Porras of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Japan, India, Iran, Russia, Mexico, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, United States, Algeria, United Kingdom South Africa and China spoke today. Many stressed that the exploration and the use of outer space should be exclusively carried out for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of all countries. The Group of Governmental Experts process and the discussions in the Conference on Disarmament showed that States held a variety of views on how to ensure safety, security and sustainability in outer space activities. Several delegations noted that, in the absence of a globally binding instrument, the draft treaty proposed jointly by Russia and China could serve as a good basis for substantive discussions in the Conference, with the view to prevent an arms race in outer space.

The outgoing President of the Conference on Disarmament, Ambassador Duong Chi Dung of Viet Nam, in a President’s Statement, noted that the adoption of a programme of work each year to guide the work of the Conference was still a priority and then outlined some elements it could contain, including that the establishment of subsidiary bodies and nomination of their coordinators should be addressed in accordance with rules of procedure, while continuity was key to sustaining substantive discussions.

Taonga Mushayavanhu, Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe to the United Nations Office at Geneva and the incoming President of the Conference on Disarmament, acknowledged the interesting views from the thematic discussion on the prevention of an arms race in outer space and said that such talks were critical to preparing the Conference for future negotiations.

Australia, which will hold the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament in 2020, took the floor to thank the presidency of Viet Nam for their efforts.

The next public plenary of the Conference on Disarmament will take place on Tuesday, 20 August at 10 a.m., under the presidency of Zimbabwe.

Discussion

Brazil asked the panellists to elaborate on the prohibition of anti-satellite tests and whether the new space situational awareness technology could detect a space-based missile launch. Venezuela believed that the exploration and use of outer space should be exclusively carried out for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of all countries.

Cuba supported the adoption of a programme of work that would allow the Conference to immediately begin its substantive work and saw the issue of the prevention of an arms race in outer space as its important pillar. Japan stressed that an arms race in outer space must be prevented, and said that the Group of Governmental Experts process and the discussion in the Conference on Disarmament showed the great interest and important variety of views of States on how to ensure safety, security and sustainability in outer space activities.

India remained committed to the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament of a legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, which had been on the agenda since 1982. Iran was worried that the militarization and weaponization of outer space undermined globally recognized rules and commitments, including the idea of a peaceful outer space environment.

Russia remarked on the enormous gap between the position of States in their approaches to the prevention of an arms race in outer space and to the use and conquest of outer space. Mexico stressed that the international community must preserve outer space only for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of all countries, and that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty was still fully in force and must be respected.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that in the absence of a globally binding instrument, the draft treaty proposed jointly by Russia and China could serve as a good basis for substantive discussions in the Conference, with the view to prevent an arms race in outer space. United States said that its national space strategy was in place and publicly available on the Internet.

Algeria reassured Zimbabwe, the next President of the Conference on Disarmament, of its full support and cooperation. United Kingdom opposed the discourse that focused on dividing lines between different groups of countries, and said that it was not useful to pick apart the proceedings of the Governmental Group of Experts on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

South Africa said it remained a supporter of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space, and appreciated the efforts of Russia and China that had submitted a concrete proposal on such a treaty. China recalled that its white paper on China’s defence policy in a new era, presented in the Conference several days ago, included policy on outer space and was publicly available on the Internet.

Panellists’ Concluding Remarks

JUAN EDUARDO EGUIGUREN, Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that bringing positions closer was crucial to bring the issue of the prevention of an arms race in outer space forward. It was important to explore how to use the existing instruments and new possibilities and options that could help this important process.

Speaking on behalf of GENNADY GATILOV, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, a representative of Russia said that all efforts must be deployed to prevent the weaponization of outer space and preserve it for peaceful uses. Russia stood ready to work with other countries on achieving this goal.

DANIEL PORRAS, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, noted that some States were concerned about threats to space assets and systems, i.e. satellites. Others were more concerned about threats from space systems, i.e. weapons deployed in space that could strike targets on the ground and hold them hostage. Those were two different conversations, he said, adding that most experts agreed that the deployment of space-based missile defence systems was highly unlikely, both for technical and financial reasons.

President’s Statement

DUONG CHI DUNG, President of the Conference on Disarmament and Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations Office at Geneva, recalled that Viet Nam had taken over the presidency at a very late stage in 2019, when many attempts made by the previous Presidents had not resulted in a consensus on a programme of work. Nevertheless, a positive momentum had been generated by the active and enriching discussions on the main agenda items, and it was clear that the Conference as a whole was keen to go back to substantive work that could lead to negotiations of disarmament mechanisms.

The adoption of a programme of work each year to guide the work of the Conference was still a priority, said the President, and suggested some of the possible elements that it could contain, including that a programme of work should be clear and simple and be a mere planning tool for the session, and that work must be carried out based on the principles as agreed in the rules of procedure. The establishment of subsidiary bodies and the nomination of their coordinators should be addressed in accordance with the rules of procedure, while continuity was key to sustaining substantive discussions.

Statements by the Future Presidents of the Conference on Disarmament

TAONGA MUSHAYAVANHU, Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe to the United Nations Office at Geneva and the incoming President of the Conference on Disarmament, acknowledged the interesting views from the thematic discussion on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, and said that such talks were critical to preparing the Conference for future negotiations. Equally, the Dutch Working Paper “Back to Basics – the Programme of Work” deserved further attention.

Australia, which would hold the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament in 2020, took the floor to thank the presidency of Viet Nam for their efforts.


For use of the information media; not an official record

DC19.042E