Newswise — Steps needed for securing a more sustainable environment in outer space were highlighted during a specially convened meeting held last week at the United Nations.

The October 14 gathering of leading authorities assessed transparency and confidence-building measures (TCBMs) that can help assure peaceful and responsible uses of outer space.

Space Security: Next Steps in TCBMs was jointly organized by the Secure World Foundation and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

“As an international community, we need to work out how we link together the increasing number of space security initiatives and make sure that they augment rather than compete with each other,” emphasized co-moderator of the meeting, Ben Baseley-Walker, Advisor, Security Policy and International Law for the Secure World Foundation (SWF).

Baseley-Walker said that TCBMs should not be viewed as undermining potential binding arms control agreements for space in the future, but as part of the process of moving towards a more sustainable space environment.

Constructive action

During the event, the most recent draft of the European proposal for an international Code of Conduct for Space Activities was publicly unveiled. “This was another example for constructive action in the international community on moving towards securing the sustainability of space activities,” SWF’s Baseley-Walker said.

Also discussed at the meeting was a draft resolution on Transparency and Confidence Building Measures that calls for the establishment of a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Space Security. This resolution -- which is a resolution of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly -- has not been passed as yet and will be voted at the end of this session.

“The proposed Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on space security is a welcomed development and could be a positive step,” Baseley-Walker said. “It would build a common understanding of the key topics, such as what the use of force looks like in space within the international community in a less political environment.”

“The time is ripe for movement ahead in developing the foundations for future space security,” said the meeting’s co-moderator, Theresa Hitchens, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

Pragmatic approach

“TCBMs are one pragmatic approach to solving foreign policy problems through partnership and shared responsibility and offer an opportunity to promote the peaceful and responsible use of space,” said Frank A. Rose, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance at the U.S. Department of State.

Speaking at the gathering, Rose said the newly issued U.S. National Space Policy underscores the Obama Administration’s expanded efforts in international space cooperation in space, reflecting a view that all space-faring nations face several critical challenges in the ability to operate safely and responsibly in space.

“Part of our international cooperation activities in this area,” Rose added, “includes developing pragmatic transparency and confidence building measures to strengthen space stability and to mitigate the risk of mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust.”

Enhanced security in outer space

“Greater security in outer space can be achieved through a pragmatic and incremental process, in a context of expanding space activities,” said Ambassador Pedro Serrano, Acting Head of Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations.

In showcasing the European proposal for an international Code of Conduct, Ambassador Serrano said that the EU “is committed to the development and implementation of transparency and confidence building measures, as a means to achieve enhanced security in outer space.”

Recent events, including the collision between US and Russian satellites, prove that security in outer space goes beyond the considerations related to placement of weapons in space, Ambassador Serrano said. “We consider our initiative for a Code of Conduct as an overarching initiative, which is limited neither to the civilian nor the disarmament fields.”

Also speaking at the event, Victor Vasiliev, Deputy Permanent Representative to the CD, Russian Federation, talked about the Russian approach to TCBMs for space.

Jean-François Mayence, Head of the Legal Unit “International Relations” for the Federal Office for Science Policy, Belgium took part in the program by discussing the European Union’s proposal for an international Code of Conduct for space activities as a TCBM.

For further information regarding the SWF-UNIDIR-sponsored meeting, Space Security: Next Steps in TCBMs, please contact:

Dr. Ray Williamson, Executive DirectorSecure World FoundationPhone: 303-554-1560Email: [email protected]

Ben Baseley-WalkerAdvisor, Security Policy and International LawMobile: +1-202-255-2153Email: [email protected]

About Secure World Foundation

Secure World Foundation (SWF) is headquartered in Superior, Colorado, with offices in Washington, D.C. and Brussels, Belgium.

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 key space security and other space related topics and to examine their influence on governance and international development.