The first Open-ended working group on mitigating space threats it’s the all-week meeting in the city of Switzerland, the result of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution Last December, it sought to promote “standards, rules and principles of responsible behavior” among nations already in space – or those that are planning a space presence.
“The situation has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Hellmut Lagos, chair of the working group, explains: “We have a lot of space activities and more and more countries without space link – and even countries without space link are doing it. send their own satellites”.
“There are a lot of activities and regulations…is insufficient to deal with the various risks and threats to the security of all such activities. ”
Promote treaty improvement
An international Outer Space Treaty already exist as the basis of international space law.
Its main focus is on “the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies… for the benefit and benefit of all nations…and will be the province of all mankind“.
In keeping with the optimism of the times surrounding the space race, The astronauts are described as “as messengers of humanityand there is also a nod to today’s concern about space pollution, with the explicit wording that States must avoid “harmful pollution” of space, the moon and the “celestial bodies.” other.
Russia, Great Britain and the United States provided the initial impetus for the treatyThe impressive title is “Treaty of Principles that govern the activities of States in the exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies”.
However, the Outer Space Treaty is 55 years old and needs an urgent update, to account for new space threats to global security – and indeed all nations today. now rely on space for everything from navigation to communications, broadband and finance, Mr. Lagos:
“The most basic things that we do in modern life, they depend on the technologies and services coming from this space.: GPS, critical infrastructure, energy, everything, everything is controlled by space technology… people are becoming more and more aware of this problem. ”
Chilean diplomat Lagos also pointed out that although nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction were banned in the 1967 space treaty – “the cornerstone of the international space regime”, in his words – had. There is no way to know about today’s new generation of missile systems that can target satellites.
Equally important, Mr. Lagos noted, is that there is no treaty review mechanism like other major treaties, which is why all Member States need to find “common ground” on standards. new ink, rules and principles, to fill legal gaps. can be exploited by space nations.
So far, China, India Russia and the US have used anti-satellite technology (ASAT), raised concerns about efforts to weaponize space – and the fact that an unspecified amount of debris may now be orbiting the earth in low orbit, threatening spacecraft including the International Space Station.
NASA / Johnson
Underline the increasing number of Non-State members involved in space exploration, Mr. Lagos welcomed the significant number of civil society representatives at the talks. in Geneva, and countries from practically every region of the world attended.
“Civil society is extremely important, not only because of the increasing number of non-State actors in space, but also because of their participation in these multilateral processes, they provide an extra layer of legitimacy to the outcome, to the outcome of the process. ”
And although global tensions are higher than in decades, in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the fundamental push to reach consensus on the public group’s agenda The collaborators helped steer the discussions in the right direction, Lagos noted.
Last week, the head of Russia’s space agency reportedly confirmed that in response to sanctions over the war in Ukraine, Russia is planning to withdraw from the International Space Station.
“It is clear that the current geopolitical landscape is really interesting and it affects all discussions and all processes around the world – not excluding us,” said Mr. Lagos.
“But we are trying to create a positive momentum in the process, at least trying to make progress because it is in everyone’s interest and so far we have achieved that – we I see that there is great involvement and interest in moving things forward.”
The next session of the Working Group is scheduled for September, where the item will be “current and future threats by States to the space system, and actions, activities and omission may be considered irresponsible”.
Next year, the group will complete its item on the preparation of petitions to the General Assembly.