UN-Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to Hold 50th Session

To Discuss Space Exploration, International Cooperation in Space-Based Disaster Management, and Use of Satellite Technology for Sustainable Development

The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) will hold its 50th session in Vienna, Austria, from 6 to 15 June.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary and 50 years of space achievements, the Committee will hold a number of special events, including a High-level Panel on Space Exploration Activities, a Symposium on Space and Water, video documentaries on the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space and a multinational exhibition entitled “50 Years of Space Achievements” with 30 States and international organizations exhibiting their achievements in space activities. Topics on the agenda include Ways and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes, Spin-off benefits of space technology and Space and society with the special theme Space and Education. The Committee will also discuss issues raised in the reports of its two Subcommittees – the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee – on their sessions earlier this year. These include space debris mitigation guidelines, a safety framework for nuclear power sources in outer space and International Heliophysical Year 2007. At its historic 50th session, the Committee will place an emphasis on its future role and activities.

Space and Water

The Committee will consider reports on regional and national water resource management initiatives that involve the use of space technology, in order to meaningfully contribute to meeting a target set in the Millennium Development Goal 7 which calls for “cutting in half, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”. A symposium on “Space and Water” will be held on Monday 11 June.

Use of space-derived geospatial data for sustainable development

This is a new agenda item that the Committee will consider under a multi-year work plan from 2007 to 2009. At the current session, the Committee will identify and assess the interfaces among existing international fora where countries discuss the implementation of space-derived geospatial data infrastructures, in order to avoid duplication of international cooperative efforts.

Space-System-Based Disaster Management Support

The Committee will consider the implementation of the newly established United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (SPIDER), including satellite-based data, training and capacity building facilities as well as offices in Beijing, China, and in Bonn, Germany, which will enable the new programme to begin its activities.

Practice of States and International Organizations in Registering Space Objects

COPUOS will consider a set of elements of conclusions of the Working Group on the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects, adopted by the Legal Subcommittee earlier this year and its possible transformation into a General Assembly resolution.

High-level Panel on Space Exploration Activities

The High-level Panel will provide an opportunity for Members of the Committee to discuss the multitude of motivations for and aspects of ongoing and planned space exploration activities as well as the possible future role the United Nations system could play in providing a forum for space-faring and space-using countries alike to consider space exploration related issues. The panel, including high level representatives of space agencies, will be held on Wednesday, 6 June.

Exhibition “50 Years of Space Achievements”

The session of the Committee will coincide with the opening of a multinational exhibition entitled “50 years of Space Achievements”, with 30 States and international organizations exhibiting their achievements in space activities. The exhibition will be held at the UN headquarters in Vienna for the entire month of June and can be viewed as part of a guided tour. In addition, a multimedia bus on Space Weather, which is on a tour through Europe, will be on display on the Plaza of the UN headquarters in Vienna for the duration of the Committee’s session.


COPUOS has the following 67 Member States: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

The following inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations have permanent observer status with COPUOS: Association of Space Explorers, Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, Committee on Space Research, Regional Centre for Remote Sensing of the North African States, Eurisy, European Space Agency, European Space Policy Institute, International Academy of Astronautics, International Astronautical Federation, International Astronomical Union, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, International Law Association, International Mobile Satellite Organization, Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, International Space University, National Space Society, Space Generation Advisory Council, Spaceweek International Association and The Planetary Society.

The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 to review the scope of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, to devise programmes in this field to be undertaken under United Nations auspices, to encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters and to study legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space. COPUOS and its two Subcommittees each meet annually to consider questions put before them by the General Assembly, reports submitted to them and issues raised by the Member States. The Committee and its Subcommittees, working on the basis of consensus, make recommendations to the General Assembly.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website.

For information contact:

Romana Kofler
Associate Programme Officer
Telephone: +43 1 26060-4962
Further information on the 50th session: COPUOS

Author: EARSC

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