Wrap Up: Keep Space for Peace Week
Last week, Reaching Critical Will (RCW), the disarmament programme of WILPF, co-sponsored the Keep Space for Peace Week 2014. Here is the wrap up!
The goal of WILPF is to create action and awareness about the importance of outer space security so that it remains free from weapons and is protected against weaponisation, militarisation, and irresponsible behaviour.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KEEP SPACE FOR PEACE?
It is extremely important to keep space for peace in order to facilitate humanitarian needs, such as telecommunication, disaster mitigation, resource management, and development.
This was highlighted by the coinciding World Space Week’s theme “SPACE: Guiding your way”, about the importance of Global Satellite Systems to modern life on Earth.
A conflict in space would lead to devastating direct consequences for our daily life on Earth, but also affect the overall long-term sustainability and peaceful use of space as illustrated by the Space Weeks.
ACTIVITIES DURING THE WEEK
Public action and events for the Keep Space for Peace Campaign took place at many various locations during the week. The World Space Week 2014 recorded over 1000 events at different places around the world.
We applaud everyone who participated in any way and encourage everyone to start planning for next year!
MAIN POINTS FROM THE WEEK
The main threats identified were accidental and intentional collisions due to debris and other space objects caused by the increased space activity, as well as the threat of weaponisation and militarisation of outer space.
There is a worrying trend in technology development in recent years that weaponisation of space technology is no longer just science fiction. Some states have developed and even tested anti-satellite systems and ground-based “missile defence” technologies can also have dual-use capabilities as space weapons.
This is very concerning against the backdrop of the lack of progress in negotiations of a multilateral agreement to ensure peace in outer space. The overwhelming majority of the UN Member States are concerned about the weaponisation of space.
This is demonstrated by increasing initiatives in the disarmament agenda, including the Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (COPUOS) debris mitigation guidelines, the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space, the EU International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities (ICoC), and Russia and China’s draft treaty on the Prevention of the Placement Weapons in Outer Space (PPWT) in the Conference on Disarmament.
However, none of the efforts have yet managed to achieve the results needed and desired. In the meantime, money is being spent to develop technologies that could disrupt and destroy our use of outer space now and for future generations.
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY FIRST COMMITTEE
Last week the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) started its 2014 session. The First Committee is a month long consensus-building body, where issues of international peace and security are collectively discussed among all UN Member States.
During the first week of general debates the issue of space had some increased attention compared to last years and many states highlighted the above discussed risks and threats.
Brazil for example emphasized that this increasing interest shows that “the use of outer space for military purposes is firmly underway.” The Republic of Korea, Switzerland and the African Group acknowledged the emerging space challenges and welcomed the new initiatives that have emerged in the last years.
WILPF’S WORK ON OUTER SPACE
For a long time, only a few NGOs have been involved in space issues. Governments need an active civil society that can make sure that the public follows any activities taking place and demand action.
WILPF’s Reaching Critical Will has therefore increased its focus on space, as one of the civil society actors working to increase attention and public participation.
In light of the on-going UN General Assembly First Committee, WILPF calls on all delegations to highlight the importance of preventing the weaponisation of outer space and to condemn any anti-satellite tests and the development of weapons to be placed in orbit or to be used to target space-based assets.
WILPF urges all delegations to indicate support for the negotiation of a treaty preventing an arms race in outer space and for interim measures such as the International Code of Conduct on outer space activities.
To see more on about our work and what was said at the UNGA First Committee on space and other disarmament issues please visit RCW’s First Committee Monitor.
To see all our posts from the Keep Space For Peace Week visit RCW’s Facebook Page.