Statement by Deputy Head of delegation of the Russian Federation K.Vorontsov in the First Committee of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly at the Thematic Debate on "Outer Space (Disarmament Aspects)"
This year the whole world celebrates a landmark date – the 60th anniversary of the first manned space flight. On 12 April 1961, our compatriot Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth on the Vostok spacecraft, ushering in the era of manned cosmonautics. His feat marked the beginning of human use and exploration of outer space.
The peaceful exploration of outer space serves as an effective means for solving many global challenges, including those related to social and economic development. This includes, for example, the study and wider use of the Earth's natural resources, natural disaster management, food security, improved transportation and communications, and the creation of advanced materials and technologies.
With the exploration of near-Earth space, new challenges emerge that require collaborative responses from the global community. Particular attention by the UN Member States should be paid to the perception of outer space by some countries as an arena for combat operations due to the implementation of unilateral policies for the placement of weapons in outer space, and for the build-up of capacities for the use of force (both kinetic and non-kinetic) against outer space objects. Extensive programs are underway to develop weapon systems designed for the threat or use of force in outer space, from outer space, and against outer space.
Their goal is to achieve military dominance to the detriment of all other acting or potential participants in space activities. As a result, we face negative consequences that could destabilize the situation and lead to an arms race in outer space, which would also undermine the prospects of the arms limitation regime as a whole.
The Russian Federation proposes that the UN GA should proclaim the historic responsibility of all States to ensure that the exploration of outer space is carried out exclusively for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of humankind.
An arms race in outer space, if not prevented in time, will consume enormous material resources and create insurmountable barriers to international cooperation in the peaceful exploration of outer space and to the use of the results of scientific and technological progress in this field for peaceful purposes.
It is therefore more critical than ever that the prevention of an arms race in outer space, as an essential prerequisite for preserving it for peaceful purposes for the benefit of all humanity, becomes a norm for national policies of UN Member States, a generally recognized international principle.The decisions of the First Special Session of the UN General Assembly devoted to Disarmament of 1978, aimed at the exploration and use of space for exclusively peaceful purposes, the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS) and the launch of the relevant negotiations in accordance with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty should not be allowed to be reconsidered. These goals are reaffirmed in the annual Egyptian-Sri Lankan UN GA resolution on PAROS, which the Russian delegation has consistently supported and co-sponsored.
The UN Member States are required to reaffirm their commitment to the existing international legal norms regulating outer space activities. Furthermore, a common understanding should also be formalized that no weapons of any kind should be placed in outer space (including in orbit around the Earth and on celestial bodies). A prohibition on the threat or use of force against or with outer space objects is also required.
We invite all UN Member States to make the following commitments in any convenient form for them:
- not to use space objects as a means to hit any targets on Earth, in the air, or in outer space;
- not to destroy, damage, disrupt functioning or alter the trajectory of space objects of other States;
- not to build, test or place space weapons of any type of basing for any purpose, including for ballistic missile defense, as counter-satellite systems, for use against targets on Earth or in the air, and to eliminate such systems that States already have;
- not to test or use manned spacecraft for military, including countersatellite purposes;
- not to assist or encourage other States, groups of States, international, intergovernmental, or any non-governmental organizations, including non-governmental legal entities, established, registered or located in the territory under their jurisdiction and/or control, to engage in the above activities.
Building on the decisions of the First Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Disarmament in 1978, the Russian Federation proposes to agree on a fundamental solution to the issue of the prevention of an arms race in outer space and preservation outer space for peaceful purposes, that is, to introduce a total and comprehensive ban of space strike weapons, as well as all land-, air- or sea-based systems designed to hit objects in outer space.
In this regard, we have consistently advocated the launching of negotiations to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space and to preserve it for peaceful purposes that would prohibit the placement of any type of weapon in outer space and the use or threat of force in, from or against outer space.
Thus, in 2008 the Russian Federation and the PRC submitted for consideration by the Conference on Disarmament (CD) the draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects, and in 2014, its updated version taking into account the comments and suggestions made by a number of States. The document is still on the negotiating table of the CD, is comprehensive and provides a good basis for the elaboration of the relevant multilateral instrument. We are well aware of the criticism by several States in relation to the PPWT, but no alternative in the sphere of PAROS has been proposed yet. We reaffirm our willingness to consider them.
The Russian initiative/political commitment on no first placement of weapons in outer space (NFP), which has already become international, is intended to stabilize the situation while such a multilateral instrument is being elaborated. It already enjoys the full-fledged participation of thirty States, and the number of supporters continues to increase.
The initiative is a unique measure to prevent the weaponisation of space. As one of transparency and confidence-building measures for PAROS, the NFP initiative has become a significant political factor in recent years, contributing to international peace, ensuring equal and indivisible security for all, and increasing predictability and sustainability in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space by States.
Only the guaranteed prevention of an arms race in outer space and its preservation for peaceful purposes will ensure the use of near and deep outer space for the benefit of the mankind and its exploration for the purposes of creation.
The Russian delegation submits to the First Committee a UNGA draft resolution entitled "No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space". The document has already become traditional within the United Nations adopted annually by the General Assembly since 2014 on the initiative of the three initial co-sponsors – Brazil, the PRC. and Russia. Draft resolutions "Further Practical Steps for PAROS" and "Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities (TCBMs)" have been prepared for consideration by the First Committee. We would like to remind you that the document on TCBMs co-sponsored by Russia, China, and the United States has been adopted by consensus since 2013. We regret that in 2018 the United States did not just refuse to co-sponsor it, but voted against it for no apparent reason.
We expect that Russian drafts will receive widespread support and co-sponsorship.