Remarks at the Joint Panel discussion of the First and Fourth Committees on Possible Challenges to Space Security and Sustainability

Director Valda Vikmanis-Keller
Office of Space Affairs in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
New York, New York
October 27, 2022


Chairs, co-chairs, and distinguished delegates.

The United States aligns itself with the statement previously made by the United Kingdom on behalf of 42 delegations. We also welcome the opportunity to make several additional comments regarding challenges to space security and sustainability.

We particularly appreciate the efforts of the bureaus and secretariats of both Committees to organize a very informative panel discussion that included perspectives of the commercial space industry. As we have seen in the past three years since the last joint panel discussion, the commercial space sector continues to advance the frontier of space technologies and applications. The resulting capabilities create new industries and jobs, such as in clean energy technology and broadband access, providing increased opportunities for sustainable development. Commercial space operators also play a leading role in the development of technical standards and operational best practices for safe and sustainable space activities.

For the United States, the commercial space industry is a key partner in efforts to promote the implementation of guidelines of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) for space debris mitigation and long-term sustainability of outer space activities. These collaborations – as well as a growing number of cooperative endeavors with other nations – contribute to strengthening global governance of space activities.


The United States Space Priorities Framework and the National Security Strategy reaffirm the long-standing U.S. commitment to uphold and strengthen a rules-based international order for outer space. The United States will continue to participate in efforts across the UN system to advance international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space and to advance trust between States through transparency and confidence-building measures or TCBMs, such as norms, rules and principles of responsible behavior for space activities.

In particular, the United States was pleased to join consensus last year on resolution 76/3, “The ‘Space2030’ Agenda: space as a driver of sustainable development,” which highlights the unique role of COPUOS and the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs in advancing international space cooperation on space sustainability and associated capacity building. The United States also looks forward to discussions next year in COPUOS and its subcommittees on planning

for a multi-stakeholder dialogue on space as part of the United Nations Summit of the Future in September 2024. This multi-stakeholder dialogue and preparatory events can serve as an important opportunity for UN Member States to bring together Governments and other leading space actors and to take stock of a broad range of challenges to space security and sustainability as well as opportunities for international cooperation to address current and emerging issues.

In order to have more fulsome discussions, we urge all Member States to fully implement the COPUOS guidelines for space debris mitigation and long-term sustainability. These guidelines serve as cornerstones for protecting the space environment and advancing key principles for international cooperation in the peaceful uses of space. It is essential that all nations fully implement them work to ensure their governmental, commercial, and other private sector activities are conducted consistent with these guidelines, which were adopted by consensus.


The full implementation of COPUOS guidelines also supports distinct and complementary efforts in UN disarmament fora focused on transparency and confidence-building measures to reduce space threats through rules, norms and principles of responsible behavior for national security space activities. As my delegation noted yesterday in the First Committee, the United States welcomes the progress of the Open-Ended Working Group established pursuant to General

Assembly resolution 76/231. We also support continued discussions on space TCBMs in the Conference on Disarmament and UN Disarmament Committee.

Finally, the United States encourages other delegations to support a new First Committee resolution sponsored by the United States and 33 other delegations, which calls upon all states to commit not to conduct destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile tests. Such a commitment serves as an urgent, initial measure aimed at preventing damage to the outer space environment, while also contributing to the development of further measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

Thank you.