Regulations for the Safe Use of Outer space – The COPUOS
The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was founded on December 12th, 1959 by the United Nations General Assembly. It is tasked with the surveillance and supervision of the exploration and use of Outer space.
The committee aims to ensure the safe use and travelling in and out of space as well as our interactions in space. Moreover, it works on protecting the outer space from exploitation by any country for their own gain of authority in space and in that way focusses on making the use of space beneficial for all of humanity. Therefore, all actions and decisions of the committee are for the sake of peace, security and development.
With Regards to the rapid advance of technology in general and space technology in particular, the attention towards the exploration and use of outer-space is growing constantly. The COPUOS consisted of 24 delegations in 1959 and 60 years later 95 countries are already a part of the committee.
The committee’s topic at the OLMUN 2021 was “Setting Regulatory Provisions for Ensuring Safe Access into, Operation in and Return from Outer Space to Earth”. The committee was chaired by Keara Hartschuh und Julie Hunze.
The resolutions of this year’s COPUOS discussed the question if countries should share their knowledge about the outer-space with each other, which therefore would offer every country the same chances for their progress. While some countries and companies are working on methods to afford private citizen a journey into space, other countries don’t even have the possibility to fly into space for research purposes. Another important point was the issue of how to improve the safety of space flights generally.
Considering the proposal of sharing knowledge, the delegations agreed that every nation should have the right and possibilities to travel in outer space. Based on their debate, a solution could be an international cooperation and supporting poor countries by establishing alliances.
Over the course of the committee sessions only few debates were being discussed in much detail, because often the delegates agreed about changes and decisions that had to be made. While wanting to offer every nation the chance to be a part of space, the parties involved need to consider the effect the preparations und use of space has on the environment as well.
In terms of the protection of our environment further detailed questions were raised. What reusable propulsion could be used/ developed for transport? What new ways to deal with space junk could be used in the future (for example reusable material)? A possible solution the committee came up with was working on forward-looking and more environment-friendly technology. Indeed, not all delegation of the COPUOS agreed with this, because for some it would mean higher costs and more work for their intelligence.
In the last committee session of the OLMUN on Friday the delegates additionally debated if non-governmental organizations such as specific companies should be incorporated in treaties, which would be binding for them as well.
In the end, two resolution were drafted. All delegations were aware that complex projects like sending space probes to other planets, using space telescopes or creating and using international space stations can only be realized with a good organized multi-national cooperation. The general problem is a question of balance between cooperation and improvement.
All in all, the COPUOS was very interesting for the delegates based on the importance of the topic and a successful result, even if there weren’t big differences between opinions.