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General Assembly – Meeting of the First Committee on Outer Space

Statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament, Ambassador Gianfranco Incarnato, at the Meeting of the First Committee of the 73rd UN General Assembly on Outer Space —

Mr. Chair,

Italy aligns itself with the statement of the European Union. I would like to add some remarks in my national capacity.

Mr. Chair,

Today, space-based applications offer unique resources to all of us, also in the domains of economic growth and innovation. Internet is very much dependent on space. Satellite systems are essential for monitoring land, maritime, and air security, as well as in facing critical issues such as natural disaster management and climate change. In this sense, the space domain enables a number of services, which have become essential for the well-functioning of our economies and for our security.

The sharply increasing number of objects in space, together with our growing reliance on space resources, infrastructures, and activities, are among the major reasons why a comprehensive and effective international regulatory environment should be elaborated and put in place. States must commit themselves to enhancing the wellbeing of humankind by working together for the long-term sustainability, safety, and security of the space environment.

Mr. Chair,

We welcome the Conference UNISPACE+50, which took place last June in Vienna, and the related draft Resolution foreseen for adoption by the UN General Assembly at its current session. We are proud to have taken an active role in its negotiation, and are ready to contribute to the development of the “Space2030” agenda and its implementation plan over the next two years. We also commend the establishment of a dedicated working group on the matter under the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).

Italy appreciates the important work carried out from 2010 to 2018 by the COPUOS Working Group on Long Term Sustainability (LTS) of Outer Space Activities in order to adopt a compendium of guidelines. We welcome that consensus was reached on the preamble and 21 LTS guidelines, although no agreement was achieved at the June session of the Committee on the final adoption of the compendium, and on its transmission to the United Nations General Assembly.

Nevertheless, we believe that this important work on the LTS guidelines could represent a solid basis for a more comprehensive voluntary instrument covering, at the same time, substantial aspects of safety, security, and sustainability of outer space activities. Such an instrument would contribute to politically commit nations to globally-shared principles of responsible behaviour, which should serve long-term goals across the full range of space activities.

These should include: non-interference in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space; prevention and mitigation of the creation of debris; international cooperation in space; preservation of the integrity of the space environment for all; equitable access to outer space; and transparency in the conduct of space exploration and exploitation activities.

We are also convinced that a crucial step towards achieving greater safety, security, and sustainability in outer space activities is represented by the effective implementation of Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures (TCBMs), including those identified by the Group of Governmental Experts in 2013, endorsed by the UN General Assembly.

This set of TCBMs may be established by the proposed voluntary instrument, covering mechanisms of (i) information sharing related to national space strategies, policies, and programmes, (ii) notification regarding space missions and manoeuvers, with a view to reducing the risk of miscommunication and improving space traffic management and (iii) consultation with a view to decreasing the risk of disputes.

We therefore continue to believe that there would be value in agreeing a comprehensive voluntary instrument within the framework of the UN, which should include key principles of responsible behaviour in outer space activities and associated Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures

Mr. Chair,

From this perspective, Italy remains fully committed to preventing an arms race in outer space (PAROS) and to preventing outer space from becoming an area of conflict as essential conditions to strengthen strategic stability.

We therefore support the on-going discussions within the Group of Government Experts (GGE) on PAROS, established by UNGA Resolution 72/250, in which we actively take part. While not excluding in the long run the objective of an international legally-binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, we believe this goal could be better achieved through a progressive approach entailing first the adoption of a voluntary instrument covering safety, security, and sustainability of outer space activities. We will therefore continue to contribute to the debate within the PAROS GGE with a constructive approach, and we hope that such debate could in turn advance the work of the CD on this important domain.

Thank you.