As technology continues to advance and costs fall, the use of space is growing more widespread internationally, both within government and the commercial sectors.
Increased use brings increased risk associated with congestion and competition. These risks need to be managed to realise the significant security and prosperity opportunities space offers and to keeps space safe.
UK resolution to agree responsible behaviour in space
On the 6th November 2020, the UN General Assembly First Committee voted to approve the new UK resolution on Reducing Space Threats through Norms, Rules and Principles of Responsible Behaviours.
This important resolution will help to improve transparency, communication of space activities and other confidence building measures, all of which are key to reducing emerging risks.
The resolution is the result of considerable effort from the FCDO. Throughout 2020, the FCDO in London and Geneva coordinated the UK’s outreach at the UN and in capitals worldwide to build awareness of the issue and generate support for the resolution.
Engagement at Wilton Park contributed to the success of the UK resolution being passed (150 Yes, 12 No, 8 Abstain) in the UN General Assembly First Committee vote on the 6th November 2020. The outcome of the vote demonstrates clear international support and indicates a strong foundation for the road ahead.
Wilton Park’s involvement
Wilton Park has supported the FCDO through 2020 by convening a series of dialogues sharing perspectives on communications to facilitate the sustainable use of space, identifying improved forms of communication and steps to realise them.
The first dialogue in Singapore in January 2020, with co-sponsorship from Australia, New Zealand and the NGO, Secure World Foundation (SWF), engaged ASEAN nations.
Three further virtual events with the US and SWF took place in July 2020 engaging Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.
The next steps will be for all nations to draft their submissions to be included in the UN Secretary General report. Other states will also be encouraged to submit their own constructive submissions so that the report provides a valuable platform for the creation of a Group of Government Experts (GGE) or Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) by next year’s UNGA.
Wilton Park is planning an event to generate greater understanding of the challenges managing space threats. It will provide the opportunity for nations to consider behaviours they might wish to recommend for addressing threats to space systems, as they prepare to draft national submissions to the UN Secretary General on responsible behaviour in space.