Vienna Space '06

As I blog this morning, the Legal Subcommittee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is gathered and hard at work in Vienna at its 45th Session (April 3-13, 2006).

The Legal Subcommittee's
agenda this year includes some familiar issues:
  • registering space objects;
  • definition and delimitation of outer space;
  • status of the five United Nations treaties on outer space;
  • registering property interests in space assets.

    In addition, a symposium put together by the International Institute of Space Law and the European Centre for Space Law held the first day of the Session addressed disaster management support from space and the well-used
    Space and Major Disasters International Charter.

    A Space Law Probe super-quick refresher on the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS): In response to the launch of
    Spunik-1, in 1958 the UN General Assembly created an ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (resolution 1348 (XIII)) and the next year, the GA established the Committee, which had 24 members at that time, as a permanent body (resolution 1472 (XIV)) "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."

    Each of COPUOS's two Subcommittees -- the Legal Subcommittee, and the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee -- meet annually to work on issues put before them by the General Assembly and members states, and on the basis of consensus, make recommendations to the General Assembly.

    And today, with 67 members, COPUOS is one of the largest Committees in the United Nations.

    This is the report of the
    44th session held last year. And if you are really into this stuff, here is a collection of recent Legal Subcommitee reports (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian Spanish).

    The UN office that implements the decisions of the General Assembly and COPUOS and its two Subcommittees is the
    Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), situated in Vienna. OOSA's mission is to promote international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

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