Assembly Adopts 15 Principles on Remote Sensing; States Urged to Prevent Outer Space Arms Race

Article excerpt

The General Assembly on 3 December adopted without a vote a set of 13 principles relating to remote sensing of the Earth from space that had been endorsed in 1986 by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space after 12 years of work by its Legal Sub-Committee.

The text of resolution 41/65 states: "Remote-sensing activities shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic, social or scientific and technological development, and taking into particular consideration the needs of the developing countries".

The principles call for those activities to be conducted in accordance with international law - and not "in a manner detrimental to the legitimate rights and interests of the sensed State". Remote sensing, they state, should be used to protect the Earth's natural environment and protect mankind from natural disasters.

A number of the principles relate to aspects of international co-operation and assistance in remote-sensing activities. Others relate to access by the sensed" State to primary and processed data and available analysed information concerning its territory, on a non-discriminatory basis and on reasonable cost terms. Final principles relate to international responsibility for remote-sensing activities, and to resolution of disputes resulting from application of the principles.

Two other resolutions on outer space issues were adopted without vote by the General Assembly.

By resolution 41/64, the Assembly urged all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, 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 asked to continue to consider as a matter of priority ways and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes.

States not yet party to international treaties governing the uses of outer space were invited to consider ratifying or acceding to those treaties.

The Outer Space Committee's Legal Sub-Committee was asked - taking into account the concerns of all countries, particularly those of developing countries - to continue elaboration of draft principles relevant to the use of nuclear-power sources in outer space, as well as consideration of matters relating to the definition and delimitation of outer space and to the character and utilization of the geostationary orbit.

UNISPACE '82 recommendations: Also in resolution 41/64, urgent implementation of recommendations of the Second United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE 82) was called for. In the context of the Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee's consideration of these priority items, at its next session, the Assembly considered it urgent to implement the following recommendations:

- All countries should have the opportunity to use the techniques resulting from medical studies in space;

- Data banks at the national and regional levels should be strengthened and expanded and an international space information service should be established to function as a centre of coordination;

- The United Nations should support the creation of adequate space training centres at the regional level, with necessary funding for their development being made available through financial institutions, and should organize a fellowship programme for candidates from developing countries to receive "in-depth, long-term exposure" to space technology or applications. …