Thursday, January 19, 2012

U.S. joins Europe in drive for code of conduct for outer space

BRUSSELS — The European Union hopes to organize multilateral meetings this year leading to an international code of conduct for outer space that would be broadly adopted, an EU source said.
Momentum has been building as the U.S. recently said it will join the EU and other countries in their efforts to come up with an international code.
“The United States has decided to join with the European Union and other nations to develop an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. A Code of Conduct will help maintain the long-term sustainability, safety, stability, and security of space by establishing guidelines for the responsible use of space,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a Jan. 17 statement.
“The long-term sustainability of our space environment is at serious risk from space debris and irresponsible actors,” the statement said. “Unless the international community addresses these challenges, the environment around our planet will become increasingly hazardous to human spaceflight and satellite systems, which would create damaging consequences for all of us.”
However, the statement adds that the U.S. “has made clear to our partners that we will not enter into a code of conduct that in any way constrains our national security-related activities in space or our ability to protect the U.S. and our allies.”
In a separate statement, the U.S. says that “the European Union’s draft Code of Conduct is a good foundation for the development of a non-legally binding International Code of Conduct focused on the use of voluntary and pragmatic transparency and confidence-building measures to help prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust in space”.
In 2010, the EU agreed on a draft for a Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities, which it is using as a basis for consultations with non-EU countries. One key principle in the code that other countries may adopt is “the responsibility of states, in the conduct of scientific, commercial and military activities, to promote the peaceful exploration and use of outer space and to take all appropriate measures to prevent outer space from becoming an area of conflict.”
An EU source said Russia was one of the first countries to be consulted by the EU and that the EU has been very active consulting other countries.

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