VIENNA, 23 March (UN Information Service) – The 48th session of the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) opened today at the Vienna International Centre. The session, which will last till 3 April, will address issues such as the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space, review and possible revision of the principles relevant to the use of nuclear power sources in outer space, definition and delimitation of outer space, matters relating to the character and use of the geostationary orbit, and capacity-building in space law. As in previous years, international organizations will be invited to report on their activities related to space law. On the first day of the session, a symposium organized by the International Institute of Space Law and the European Centre for Space Law, will be held on the 30th anniversary of the “Moon Agreement”.

General exchange of information on national mechanisms relating to space debris mitigation measures

This item is new on the agenda of this session of the Subcommittee. The Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/217 of 21 December 2007, are of particular relevance for the discussion.

Status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space

At this session, the Subcommittee will reconvene its working group on this item, which will review current activities being carried out on the Moon and other celestial bodies, and future activities. The working group will also determine the benefits of adherence to the Moon Agreement, identify the international and national rules governing the activities on the Moon and other celestial bodies, and assess whether existing international rules adequately address activities on the Moon and other celestial bodies.

Registering property interests in space assets

The Subcommittee will continue its consideration of this item to examine and review the developments concerning the draft Protocol on Matters Specific to Space Assets to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment. The draft Protocol on Matters Specific to Space Assets aims to establish an international system for registering property interests in space assets, such as satellites, and is being developed by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT).

Capacity-building in space law

Deliberations under this agenda item aim at promoting cooperation with, and assistance to, developing countries. The Subcommittee will be informed on any actions taken or planned on a national, regional or international level by Member States, permanent observers of the Committee and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).

General exchange of information on national legislation relevant to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space

The Subcommittee will establish a working group under this agenda item, which will examine information provided by Member States on their national legislation relating to space activities in order to develop an understanding of the manner in which Member States have regulated governmental and non-governmental space activities.


The Legal Subcommittee, like COPUOS, its parent committee, has the following 69 Member States: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bolivia, 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, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

The following intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations have permanent observer status with COPUOS: African Organization of Cartography and Remote Sensing, 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 Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, European Space Agency, European Space Policy Institute, European Telecommunications Satellite Organization, International Academy of Astronautics, International Astronautical Federation, International Astronomical Union, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, International Institute of Space Law, 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, Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, Secure World Foundation, 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 the Subcommittees, working on the basis of consensus, make recommendations to the General Assembly.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) 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, UNOOSA maintains a website at

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For further information, please contact:

Jamshid Gaziyev
Associate Programme Officer, UNOOSA
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4958