5 April 2007 – Registering satellites and other objects launched into outer space, along with the status of the five United Nations treaties covering outer space, were among the main issues discussed during a 11-day meeting in Vienna under the auspices of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) that ended today.

This year marks the 50th session of the Committee and is also important for the wider space community as being the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first artificial satellite, as well as marking 40 years since the entry into force of the Outer Space Treaty.

The Vienna meeting of the Legal Subcommittee of COPUOS also examined aspects of capacity building in space law, during which leading experts gave presentations, and noted the positive effect of a recent letter by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraging participation in the outer space treaties. The Subcommittee, like COPUOS, is composed of 67 Member States, while inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as the Association of Space Explorers and the Planetary Society, have permanent observer status with COPUOS.

The Committee 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 UN auspices, and to deal with related matters.

The Vienna-based UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of COPUOS and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee.