African Group Statement During the Sixty-Sixth Session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
DELIVERED BY H.E AMBASSADOR PHILBERT JOHNSON OF PERMANENT MISSON OF GHANA AND CHAIR OF THE AFRICAN GROUP
ITEM 4: GENERAL EXCHANGE OF VIEWS
31 May – 09 June 2023
- On behalf of the African Group, please allow me this opportunity to express our appreciation to Mr Omram Sharaf of the United Arab Emirates from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for your excellent stewardship of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer space. The Group assures you of its full support and cooperation in making this session a success.
- We would also like to thank Mr Niklas Hedman, Acting Director of the Office for Outer Space for his opening remarks, and the Secretariat for the excellent preparations made for this session.
- The group aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
- The African Group welcomes Guatemala and Uzbekistan as new members of the Committee and encourages other members of the African Group to consider joining the Committee either as members or observers to contribute to the diverse and dynamic composition of the Committee.
- The African Group stresses that international cooperation in space exploration and the use of space technology applications remains a priority for the African continent and the Group’s participation is guided by the established principles of outer space activities, namely, the principle of exploration and use of outer space on the basis of equality, the principle of the non-appropriation of outer space including the moon and other celestial bodies, and the peaceful uses of outer space for the benefit of all. Consequently, it is imperative to promote equal, non-discriminatory access to outer space, irrespective of levels of socio-economic or scientific development and should be cognizant of developing country needs.
- The Group acknowledges the critical role the Committee of Peaceful Uses of Outer space and its two subcommittees play in promoting international cooperation in the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space and in the utilisation of space science and technology for sustainable economic and social development. The Group is cognizant that the benefits derived from outer space activities is linked to achieving the Development Goals of Agenda 2030 and aspirations contained in Africa’s blueprint for socio-economic development, Agenda 2063.
- As a continent still unlocking its true potential, the African Group reiterates that benefits of outer space are cross cutting in terms of disaster management, agriculture, health, education and sustainable development and attaches great importance to the Space2030 Agenda as adopted in Resolution 76/3 with the firm conviction that it outlines an inclusive and long-term strategy aimed at utilizing the space tools to achieve the global initiatives of the UN namely; the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change addressing long-term sustainable development concerns of humankind. Accordingly, the Group calls for the mobilization of appropriate and sufficient resources to enable the Office to render necessary upon request and through UNOOSA’s capacity building programmes to developing countries.
- Recognizing the critical role of space in addressing developmental challenges, the African Union developed a Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) with a focus towards developing a coordinated African space process as part of the scientific leg of the African Agenda 2063. The Group remains hopeful that the African Union Space Programme and Strategy will generate new impetus across Africa and significantly increase the participation of all African States in space activities.
- The African continent is committed to expanding its work in the field of space affairs through initiatives such as the African Space Week, which provides an innovative platform for African space industry stakeholders to strengthen efforts to promote and enable intra-Africa and international cooperation on space-related activities.
- The Group expresses appreciation for the work of the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education located in Morocco and Nigeria and calls upon UNCOPUOS to continue supporting the Regional Centres as well as other regional initiatives to promote greater African excellence and improved participation of women and youth, especially in STEM.
- The African Group calls upon UNCOPUOS Member States, particularly developed countries to extend benefits derived from outer space activities and provide capacity building and technical assistance to assist developing countries in strengthening capacity in the space sector and effective implementation of countries Space Programmes.
- In this regard, it is also important to highlight the collective efforts of the African continent to advance its space aspiration through the African Space Strategy and the African Space Agency (AfSA) in Cairo. The African Space Agency aims to implement and achieve common development goals for the African Continent in the realm of outer space.
- The Group reiterates its call for closer coordination and enhanced cooperation with the African Union through the office of the Commissioner in charge of education, science, technology, and innovation to further the global space agenda which benefits all mankind.
- The Africa Group reiterates its concern on the use of nuclear power sources in outer space for the Group due to potential risks of collisions and accidental re-entry in the earth atmosphere of space objects using nuclear power sources. The African Group calls upon space actors to avail all necessary information and safety measures for space objects using nuclear sources.
- The Group welcomes the progress made in the Working Group on the general exchange of views on potential legal models for activities in exploration, exploitation, and utilization of space resource and reiterates its call for greater coordination at the international level to ensure the continued peaceful and sustainable use of outer space, the moon and other space objects to ensure that such activities were carried out in accordance with international law and for the benefit of all.
- The Group also welcomes the progress made in the Working Group Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space activities in carrying out the work plan for the period 2022-2026 and working towards the implementation of the guidelines aimed to promote safety, sustainability, and security of activities in outer space.
- The fast-evolving space sector has resulted in the rapid development and deployment of mega-constellations in the Lower-Earth Orbit, alongside increasingly challenges. In this regard, Group expresses its support for an item on Dark and Quiet Skies on the agenda of the STSC as well as the establishment of an Expert Working Group to further advance the committee’s understanding of the scope of the issue and work constructively towards addressing resolving identified challenges.
- In conclusion, the Group looks forward to the appointment of the new Director of the Office of Outer Space Affairs and working towards enhanced cooperation on the peaceful uses of outer space for the benefit of all.
I thank you.