A Political Issue, a Practical Matter

Article excerpt

A political issue, A practical matter

Peaceful uses of outer space:

The peaceful uses of outer space, a subject before the General Assembly since 1958, extend in many directions: from the mapping of lakes and streams from satellites spinning in orbit thousands of miles above the earth, to exploring planets in the solar system, to developing the use of nuclear power to drive space satellites, to examining ways to prevent an arms race in space.

The Assembly's Special Political Committee reviewed reports on the work accomplished in 1987 by the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two subsidiary bodies, one dealing with scientific and technological matters, the other with legal issues relating to outer space.

Special Political Committee Chairman Hamad Abdelaziz Al-Kawari of Qatar drew attention to the successful completion of five international treaties in the area of outer space and principles relating to remote sensing of the earth from outer space. Work continued on other international instruments related to the peaceful uses of outer related to the peaceful uses of outer space. The UN was particularly concerned that the benefits of outer space activities be extended to all Member States by implementing the recommendations of UNISPACE 82, the international conference on peaceful uses of outer space held in Vienna in 1982.

Two space-related anniversaries were observed -- the thirtieth of the launching by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957 of "Sputnik" -- the first man-made object propelled into space -- and the twentieth of the 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.

Assembly action in this area dealt with both political and practical aspects of the subject. States, in particular those with major space capabilities, were urged to contribute actively to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space as an essential condition for the promotion of international co-operation in the exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes. The Outer Space Committee was to give priority to considering ways to maintain space for peaceful purposes. …