Newswise — The long-term sustainability of the outer space faces various risks. Ensuring that the space environment is safe and stable should be of high importance to the global community.

A draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities was published by the European Union (EU) in 2008, with a revised draft released in September 2010.

Among the concerns raised by the draft Code of Conduct is the worrisome problem of orbital debris that potentially limits the effective use of space capabilities. The Code strives for “the formation of a set of best practices aimed at ensuring security in outer space could become a useful complement to international space law.”

To review the current status of the EU’s Code of Conduct, Secure World Foundation (SWF) brought together experts on March 8 in Brussels, Belgium to take part in a special panel titled: International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities - The International Perspective.

The group of specialists examined the Code’s current status, challenges, and the way forward from the point of view of several States.

This timely dialogue was held as part of the SWF’s Brussels Space Policy Round Table series, panel discussions that focus on significant global space events with a particular emphasis on Europe.

An international conversation

“The international conversation about what constitutes best practices for their interactions in space has the potential to be a major step forward in securing open and peaceful access to space for everyone,” said Dr. Michael Simpson, Secure World Foundation’s Executive Director. “SWF’s Brussels meeting was one important step in advancing that conversation.”

Simpson said that countries behaving like good citizens in space have nothing to fear from a Code of Conduct. “Their best practices are the ones most likely to be incorporated in any widely accepted document,” he said.

The thought-provoking discussion – held under Chatham House Rule -- was moderated by Agnieszka Lukaszczyk, European Program Manager, for Secure World Foundation (SWF).

Panel participants in the round table included:

-- Pierre-Louis Lempereur, CODUN SPACE Chair, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Directorate, European External Action Service-- Andrew Pelkey, Political-Military Officer, United States Mission to the European Union-- Michiko Miyano, First Secretary, Political Section, Japanese Mission to the European Union-- Jonathon Lane, Third Secretary, Australian Mission to the European Union and NATO-- Oleg Kovalenko, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the European Union-- Gerard Brachet, Vice President, International Astronautical Federation

Rules of the road in space

Among key points raised by individual panel participants:

-- The draft Code can still be modified. An increasing number of States are participating in discussions and within the process.

-- It is in everyone’s best interest to evolve the Code, as no legally-binding treaty on space sustainability is in the offing for the near-term.

-- There are important and newly emerging issues of “New Space” that involve the oceans, cyberspace, as well as outer space. International rulemaking must take into account matters of space security, space situational awareness, and well as re-entry of satellites. There is an international movement to establish rules of the road in space.

-- For the Code to succeed, as many countries should participate as possible via a flexible forum, one that includes civil and military aspects of using outer space, and there should be clear implementation mechanisms.

-- The Code should complement other initiatives instead of compete with them. In this regard, not all military activities in outer space are peaceful and there needs to be a definition for what constitutes a military activity.

-- There needs to be consistency and cooperation, not competition between initiatives that are shaping the Code. In doing so, an established lexicon would be useful so that all participating speak “the same language.” Constant and open dialogue and the free exchange of information are essential elements in the internationalization of the Code.

Step in the right direction

“I believe our round table on the International Code of Conduct for Outer Space activities was the first one of its kind where representatives of several states assembled to publicly discuss the code,” Lukaszczyk said. “We at SWF are very pleased that we could facilitate this very important conversation,” she said.

Lukaszczyk said that there are pros and cons regarding the Code, “but regardless of what one might think, it is currently the most feasible option on the table - a step in the right direction.”

It is important that the EU continues to internationalize this code, Lukaszczyk said, so that the process is smooth and transparent. “In large measure, it is not the content of this Code that has been problematic,” she said, “it has been the process that has been questioned. By way of international cooperation and open discussion on the Code, a satisfactory outcome could be expected.”


For more information on the Brussels Space Policy Round Table: International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities - the International Perspective, go to:

Regarding future programs in the SWF Brussels Space Policy Round Table series and the EU Code of Conduct, please contact:

Agnieszka Lukaszczyk, European Program Manager, Secure World FoundationAvenue des Arts 8B-1210 BrusselsBelgiumPhone +32 2 545 11 50Fax +32 2 545 11 66Email: [email protected]

About Secure World Foundation

Secure World Foundation (SWF) is a private operating foundation dedicated to the secure and sustainable use of space for the benefit of Earth and all its peoples.SWF engages with academics, policy makers, scientists and advocates in the space and international affairs communities to support steps that strengthen global space sustainability. It promotes the development of cooperative and effective use of space for the protection of Earth’s environment and human security.

The Foundation acts as a research body, convener and facilitator to advocate for promoting key space security and other space related topics and to examine their influence on governance and international development.

Secure World Foundation is headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, with offices in Washington, D.C. and Brussels, Belgium.

For access to the SWF website, please go to: