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Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Concludes 48th Session in Vienna

Agreement on Contribution to the 2005 World Summit Reached; Space and Water Discussed.

VIENNA, 20 June (UN Information Service) —

its 48th session, which was held in Vienna from 8 to 17 June, the
United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS)
agreed on a text that could be transmitted to the President of the
United Nations General Assembly by Member States of COPUOS for
incorporation into the draft outcome document of the 2005 World Summit,
to be held from 14 to 16 September 2005.

“The work that is conducted by the
Committee is strongly linked to the work of the other entities of the
United Nations system, and takes into account a great number of the
priority goals of the General Assembly, in particular the matters
relating to sustainable social and economic development”, the President
of the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Jean Ping,
told the Members of COPUOS in his opening statement.

Topics of discussion included space and water, space and society, ways
and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes, spin-off
benefits of space technology, as well as issues raised in the
Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee
earlier this year. Those issues included space-system-based disaster
management support, space-system-based telemedicine, space debris, the
use of nuclear power sources in outer space, examination of the
preliminary draft protocol on matters specific to space assets and the
practice of States and international organizations in registering space

The Committee endorsed the activities of
the United Nations Programme on Space Applications for the second half
of 2005 and for 2006. It also reviewed the activities of the
International Satellite System for Search and Rescue (Cospas-Sarsat).
Among other activities, the United Nations Programme on Space
Applications holds training courses on satellite-aided search and

Space and water

The Committee continued to consider its
agenda item on space and water. Space applications could contribute to
cost-effective water resource management as well as to forecasting and
mitigation of water-related emergencies. Remote sensing satellites
contribute to determining various water management indicators, such as
precipitation and changes in underground water storage, while
communication satellites are used for gathering data on water quality.
The Committee agreed to continue its discussions of this topic next

Implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III

The Committee discussed the implementation
of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the
Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III). In October
2004, the General Assembly reviewed the progress made in the
implementation of those recommendations and endorsed a set of future
actions proposed by the Committee in its report to the Assembly. The
Committee discussed some of those proposals.

Among other things, COPUOS agreed on
steps to establish a closer link between its work relating to the
implementation of the recommendations of UNISPACE III and the work
being carried out by the Commission on Sustainable Development.

The Committee also reviewed the progress
made in the work of the ad hoc expert group that is conducting a study
on the possibility of creating an international entity to coordinate
space-based services for use in disaster management.

Space and society

Under the agenda item on space and society,
COPUOS focused its discussions on space and education. The Committee
received information from Member States on several national
tele-education initiatives that are providing educators and students at
all levels, including those living in remote areas, with high-quality
education consisting of the latest teaching resources, vocational and
teacher-training and adult education, in fields such as women‘s
empowerment, family planning and skills for local artisans.


A symposium on “Space and Archaeology” was
held on Monday, 13 June. The symposium was co-organized by the United
Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the
Institute for Global Mapping and Research of Austria. The symposium
addressed topics such as the current and future uses of space
technology in archaeology and archaeology‘s contribution to human
development, UNESCO‘s Open Initiative on the use of space technologies
to support the World Heritage Convention, space applications in
archaeological exploration and documentation in Syria, understanding
cultural and natural heritage information using space technology in
China, and remote sensing and virtual reconstruction of archaeological

The Committee agreed that a symposium on space and forests should be held during its next session, in 2006.

New permanent observer

The Committee granted the European Space
Policy Institute, an international non-governmental entity, based in
Vienna, permanent observer status with COPUOS.


COPUOS has the following 67 Member States:
Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin,
Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China,
Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany,
Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan,
Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco,
Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines,
Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi
Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan,
Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United
States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of
Outer Space (COPUOS) was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 to
review the scope of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of
outer space, to devise programmes in this field to be undertaken under
United Nations auspices, to encourage continued research and the
dissemination of information on outer space matters and to study legal
problems arising from the exploration of outer space. COPUOS and its
two Subcommittees each meet annually to consider questions put before
them by the General Assembly, reports submitted to them and issues
raised by the Member States. The Committee and the Subcommittees,
working on the basis of consensus, make recommendations to the General

The United Nations Office for Outer Space
Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of
the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two
Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal
Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international
cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting
developing countries in using space science and technology.

Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at

(Credits Spaceref)