The Holy See is urging support for security and sustainability in outer space, ensuring it is free from weapons of any sort. It is also calling for reinforcing weapons disarmament agreements on Earth.
This appeal was made by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, while addressing a UN meeting on the prevention of arms race in outer space.
Outer space cooperation and peaceful activities
Recalling the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, Archbishop Auza reminded states parties of their commitment to be guided by the principle of co-operation and mutual assistance and to conduct all their activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, with due regard for the corresponding interests of all other states parties.
The Filipino Archbishop said that while it is categorically prohibited to orbit or station nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction on celestial bodies or elsewhere in outer space, it is also inconsistent with the principle of cooperation and mutual assistance in peaceful outer space activities, to attack satellites in any way or by launching weapons from outer space on Earth.
The continued and increasing reliance on outer space platforms that support communications, navigation, position finding and the daily commerce of activities here on Earth, the Holy See diplomat said, points to the importance of supporting the security, efficiency and sustainability of such platforms.
Hence, attacking, intercepting or interfering with the proper functions of these space platforms should be prohibited. The Holy See official also denounced military activities that create debris that threatens other space objects.
Little progress in space security
Archbishop Auza lamented little progress made in space security and sustainability and particularly urged for breaking the impasse regarding the UN Disarmament Commission.
Noting that there are no negotiations on outer space within the context of the Conference on Disarmament, he urged member states to restart the negotiating process. He noted that the prevention of an arms competition in outer space is on the agenda of the Conference.
Underscoring the importance of internationally operated platforms to verify agreements for monitoring outer space and the Earth, he said, such developments can provide substantial support to space security and sustainability. They can also help maintain space free from weapons of any sort and ensure the viability of disarmament agreements on weapons on Earth.