Yearbook of International Environmental Law - Vol. 7

By Günther Handl; Jutta Brunnée et al. | Go to book overview

VII. INTERNATIONAL COMMONS/ AREAS BEYOND NATIONAL JURISDICTION

1. SEABED AND OCEANFLOOR

[Editors' Note: No significant developments during 1996. See instead infra, XIII. Special Report: "Biodiversity in the Deep Seabed."]


2. OUTER SPACE

(1) Space Debris

The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) continued its consideration of space debris on a priority basis (in accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 50/27) at its 1996 session. The Secretariat submitted a report on steps taken by space agencies for reducing the growth or damage potential of space debris (A/AC.105/260), which is to be updated annually. Russia presented a working paper on the problem of the technogenic pollution of near space (A/AC.105/C.1/L.205). The Subcommittee invited the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee to give a presentation at the next session in 1997.

The Subcommittee proceeded with the multi-annual work programme for consideration of specific topics related to space debris, which it had adopted in 1995. It focused on measurements of space debris, understanding of data, and effects of that environment on space systems (A/AC.105/637, paras. 93 and 95). A technical report for 1996 was prepared by the Subcommittee and is to be carried forward and updated each year, leading to an accumulation of advice and guidance to establish a common understanding as a basis for further deliberations of the Committee (A/AC.105/637, paras. 96-138). The Legal Subcommittee did not address the matter of space debris and was waiting for the completion of the multi-annual work programme of the other Subcommittee.

The UN General Assembly, in resolution 51/123 of 13 December 1996, endorsed the recommendation of UNCOPUOS that the Subcommittee should continue to deal with the item on a priority basis (para. 18). It called upon member states to pay more attention to the problem of collisions of space objects, including nuclear power sources with space debris, and to continue national research on this problem (para. 32). Moreover, the General Assembly endorsed the view of UNCOPUOS that the multi-annual work

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