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Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, allow me to express our sincere congratulations on your designation as a chair of these multilateral negotiations. Please rest assured of my delegation’s full support and cooperation throughout this week.

As a representative of my country, let me also voice my delight to attend such an important negotiation under the leadership – in his personal capacity – of an Italian expert, whose experience, skills and commitment are well-recognized.

Mr. Chairman,

In the last few decades, Italy has been at the forefront of outer space activities, in 2014 we celebrated our 50th anniversary of the launch of our first artificial satellite,  San Marco-1, into outer space. 

Since then, Italy has continued developing its space capabilities, in several areas such as science, telecommunications, Earth Observation and the contribution to the development of the International Space Station. Italy promoted the application of space technology as a driving force for economic growth, being aware of the unique source that space applications offer to face a number of critical issues, to name only a few, climate change and natural disaster management.

Italy is party to more than sixty bilateral agreements with both spacefaring and developing countries. It actively participates in different regional and international organizations, such as the European Space Agency, EUMETSAT, EUTELSAT, as well as in interagency committees, such as the Group of Earth Observation and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites. In all that context, our performance is fully inspired by the principles of responsible behavior and due diligence.

At a time when the human endeavor increasingly depends on utilization of  outer space, the growing risks associated with lack of traffic management, creation of debris, harmful interferences, miscalculation and mistrust seriously jeopardize space resources, infrastructures and activities. To address those threats, as recommended by the Group of Governmental Experts on TCBMs in their consensual report, States should pursue political commitment, including “in the form of a multilateral code of conduct, to encourage responsible actions in, and the peaceful use of, outer space”. We fully support this statement and we welcome its endorsement by the UN General Assembly in its 68/50 Resolution, consensually adopted on December 5th, 2013.

Italy has been among the pioneers of the idea of an International Code of Conduct for outer space activities. It was March 2007 when Italy circulated a paper entitled “Food for thought for a Comprehensive Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities”. Soon afterwards, the EU elaborated a Draft International Code of Conduct, as a joint effort to answer the UN General Assembly’s call for concrete proposals on transparency and confidence building measures in outer space activities.

Following the open-ended consultations held during the last few years, time has come for the international community to go one step further and negotiate in good faith the draft International Code of Conduct, to be considered complementary to the existing legally binding and non-binding international instruments regulating space activities, with a view to its prompt adoption. Together with many other stakeholders, we do share, indeed, a sense of urgency. First of all, because the draft Code of Conduct intends to provide timely and effective responses to common concerns; secondly, because the Code is the only relevant initiative able to gather, in the short run, extensive international support; lastly, because we believe that the Code, and its implementation may provide, in a longer run, momentum for reinforcing the existing legal framework and enhancing safety, security and sustainability in outer space activities.

Mr. Chairman,

We support the comprehensive scope of the draft Code, which takes into consideration that outer space peaceful activities, by their very nature, serve both civil and military purposes. By this approach, the Code aims at setting up a framework where nations enhance mutual understanding and trust  in outer space activities by peaceful means, thus preventing space from becoming an area of conflict. The consultative and information-sharing mechanisms designed in the draft Code would represent a crucial value added to the existing tools; likewise, the new substantive and procedural measures would help the preservation of the space environment in the interest of all States.

We also champion the view that provisions regulating the placement of weapons in outer space remain beyond the scope of the Code of Conduct, which is not meant to be an alternative to the initiatives dealing with the “weaponization” of outer space.

Furthermore, Italy supports the fundamental principles on which the draft Code is based, namely: freedom for all states to use outer space for peaceful purposes, in accordance with international law and without harmful interference;  preservation of the security, safety and integrity of space objects in orbit and space environment; promotion of the peaceful exploration and use of outer space for the benefit and in the interest of humankind; due consideration for the legitimate security concerns of States. We believe that those principles, being the core of the initiative, should remain unspoiled during the negotiations.

Mr. Chairman,

We are encouraged by the significant level of turnout today, proving the strong common interest in making progress in this subject. We are also confident that, under your able guidance and thanks to the cooperation among all delegations, our work will be both fruitful and successful.

I thank you.