Congratulations on your appointment as the Coordinator of Subsidiary Body 3 on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, PAROS. I assure you of my delegation’s full cooperation and constructive participation in the meetings of this Subsidiary Body. Given your experience and diplomatic skills, we are confident that our deliberations will be substantive and meaningful.
Outer space is being used by an increasing number of States for civilian and military purposes. While our dependence on outer space applications is growing, the risk of its weaponization is also increasing. There is an urgent need to address this issue in the CD in order to prevent outer space from emerging as the new realm of conflict and arms race.
The issue of PAROS has been on the CD’s agenda for three and a half decades now. In our view, it is ripe for the commencement of negotiations on a legally binding treaty. The draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects, commonly known as PPWT, tabled jointly by the Russian Federation and China in 2008, and updated in 2014, provides a useful basis for the commencement of negotiations in the CD. We consider it a substantive and concrete contribution for advancing the work of the CD on this agenda item.
The dominance enjoyed by certain countries in outer space owing to their current technological prowess cannot last forever. Other countries are catching up fast. And this time, the developing countries will neither carry the burden of non-proliferation, nor will they accept any discriminatory restrictions which hamper their peaceful pursuits in outer space.
Pakistan is party to all of the five core multilateral treaties governing the peaceful uses of outer space, including the 1967 Outer Space Treaty; the 1968 Rescue Agreement; the 1972 Liability Convention; the 1975 Registration Convention; and the 1979 Moon Agreement. We stand ready to explore the conclusion of additional legally binding instruments that would contribute to preventing the weaponization of outer space.
Pakistan is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, COPUOS. This Committee has an important role in maximizing the benefits of space capabilities in the service of humanity, particularly in the fields of environment, health and disaster mitigation. Pakistan has developed a strategy for the effective application of space-based technologies for sustainable development through its ‘Space Vision 2040’. Space-based solutions for planning and development projects are being developed and implemented in many areas.
The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 recognized that the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all humanity, that is, our common heritage. The treaty prohibits the placement of nuclear weapons and other WMDs in outer space, but is silent on the placement of other types of weapons including conventional weapons in outer space. Moreover, the development and deployment of Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) systems and their integration into space assets has added another dangerous dimension to this issue. These concerns need to be addressed in a treaty on PAROS.
During these discussions, my delegation would like to understand from those states that are opposed to the commencement of negotiations on PAROS in the CD, the reasons for their opposition and how such negotiations would affect their security interests. These states’ intransigence on PAROS is contributing to the CD’s deadlock by preventing progress on an issue that is ripe for negotiations.
We take note of the consensus report and recommendations of the 2013 UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Transparency and Confidence Building Measures (TCBMs) in Outer Space. We agree that TCBMs should be aimed at increasing the security, safety and sustainability of outer space. We particularly welcome the GGE’s recommendation to further develop international cooperation between space-faring and non-space-faring nations in the peaceful uses of outer space for the benefit of all States.
We recognize the value of TCBMs as well as non-legally binding Codes of Conduct in promoting trust among states and building confidence. However, these voluntary measures cannot be a substitute for legally binding treaty based obligations. There are clear gaps in the international legal regime governing the use of outer space with grave security implications. These gaps must be plugged by concluding a treaty on PAROS in the CD. Any multilateral efforts to develop non-legally binding Codes of Conduct should be pursued in an inclusive, universal and participatory manner within the UN system, taking into account the interests of all states.
The informal discussions on PAROS that have been held in the CD over the years have helped develop a better understanding of the different perspectives on PAROS. It reinforces our view that the contentious issues concerning PAROS are surmountable, and can be resolved during negotiations.
The latest United Nations General Assembly resolution on PAROS, co-sponsored by Pakistan, was adopted with an overwhelming majority of states voting in its favour. It called on the CD to “establish a working group under its agenda item entitled Prevention of an arms race in outer space as early as possible during its 2018 session”. The UN General Assembly also adopted another important resolution, co-sponsored by Pakistan every year since 2013, titled “No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space”. We welcome the laudable and pioneering move by the Russian Federation to announce the political commitment that it would not be the first to place weapons in outer space, and appreciate similar announcements by other states. We also support the call in this resolution for the early start of substantive work in the CD based on the updated draft PPWT submitted by China and the Russian Federation.
We also welcome the adoption of resolution 72/250 by the UNGA last year titled “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space”. This resolution too urged the CD to immediately commence negotiations on an international legally binding instrument on PAROS. We look forward to participating in the Group of Governmental Experts that is being established pursuant to this resolution to consider and make recommendations on substantial elements of an international legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, including, inter alia, on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space.
We sincerely hope that the work of this Subsidiary Body will contribute meaningfully to the narrowing down of differences and the building of convergences on this vital issue, leading to the start of substantive negotiations on PAROS as soon as possible in the CD.
I thank you, Mr. Coordinator.