UN Committee Votes “Yes” on Space Norms Resolution

Via UN/Manuel Elias

The UN General Assembly’s First Committee, a security and disarmament panel, has voted to create a working group focused on space conduct. 

  • Resolution title: “Reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours”
  • Tally: 163 nations voted Yes, eight voted No, and nine abstained. 
  • Notable nays: Russia opposed the measure, saying the resolution should focus on “preventing an arms race in outer space rather than dwell on space security in its broad interpretation.” China, another major space power, also voted against the measure.
  • Procedure: The UK-drafted, US-supported resolution will need to be approved by the General Assembly at large in December, which seems like a safe bet. 

The working group, if stood up, would recommend rules aimed at curbing “threatening” space behavior…and ostensibly be a precursor to a new space treaty. 

An expert’s POV: “It is definitely more than symbolic,” Secure World Foundation Director of Program Planning Brian Weeden told Payload via email. The resolution is “a deliberate, focused effort over the next two years to hammer out an agreement dealing with threats in space.” 

Examples: Asked about the most pressing gaps in existing space frameworks, Weeden highlighted anti-satellite weapons testing and lacking norms “on conducting close approaches of other countries’ satellites.” He believes reaching consensus on the latter is more likely. 

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