27 October 2014 - UNGA / 1st Committee -“0uter space” - Statement by Mr Louis Riquet, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament
France aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union.
Space is an essential part of modern life. It has countless peaceful applications, ranging from telecommunications to terrestrial, aerial and maritime navigation to meteorology. Space is of course equally fundamental to international security. However, our ability to use outer-space is threatened by the deterioration of space environment.
One of the main challenges faced to ensure the sustainability of outer space activities is the proliferation of debris from space objects. A number of events that took place over the last years have led to an increase in the number of space debris, resulting from accidental collisions between space items or deliberate acts of destruction. The destruction of a single satellite, resulting from the experimental launch of a device from the ground has considerably increased the proliferation of space debris. Existing mechanisms are insufficient to prevent such events.
The problems we face are security problems in the broadest sense, requiring responses which
span both civilian and military aspects. It is in our common interest, as nations with current or future space capacities, to promote a principle of responsible use of outer space in the pursuit of civilian, but also military space programs.
True to our long-standing position, France remains attached to the preservation of peace and security in outer space and to the development of space activities for peaceful purposes. This should be done in the framework of the UN Charter and with respect to the overriding international law principles, namely:
— freedom of access to space for peaceful uses;
— preservation of the security and integrity of space objects in orbit;
— due consideration for the right of self-defense of States.
As stated a number of times, France shares the objective of avoiding an arms race in outer-space. France is not opposed to the elaboration of instruments and to the development of initiative contributing to this objective, in the framework of an agreed program of work at the Conference on Disarmament.
France notes the joint efforts by Russia and China to promote discussions at the Conference on Disarmament on the prevention of the weaponization of outer-space. Allow me to share France’s views on the necessary conditions for the elaboration of a legally-binding instrument on PAROS. We think that a new and legally binding instrument would truly advance security only if it were comprehensive, precise, universal and credible. Drawing up such an instrument would inevitably be a long-term process, whereas the problems encountered every day in outer space activities call for pragmatic and prompt solutions which include measures that can be implemented immediately.
Therefore, we support the promotion of responsible practices and the elaboration of voluntary transparency and confidence building measures, based on flexible mechanisms of cooperation and consultation.
France participated to the work of the GGE on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in outer-space, which report has been endorsed last year by consensus.
We give our full support to the draft International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. France welcomes the interest shown by a significant number of countries for this initiative and which was demonstrated by the broad participation to the substantial discussions that took place during the consultation phase, which ended last spring in Luxemburg.
France considers that this political initiative is a pragmatic step towards the strengthening of security in outer space. France is taking part in the ongoing reflections to move this initiative forward. We call on all interested States to remain involved in this process with a view to starting negotiations on the text, in order to serve our common goal to implement swift and pragmatic solutions, aiming at strengthening the security of outer space activities.