Statement by Mr. Nabeel Munir, Minister Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations in the Special Political and Decolonization (4th) Committee on Peaceful uses of Outer Space (22 October 2013)

Mr. Chairman,

The report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) on its fifty-sixth session, contained in document A/68/20, gives a comprehensive review of the activities of the Committee. We appreciate the work done by the UN COPOUS, ably led by its chair, pursuant to the comprehensive framework of policies and guidelines, contained in the annual resolution of the General Assembly.

The UN COUPOUS and its two Sub-Committees are a central focal point for the UN Member States to seek avenues for enhancing international cooperation for peaceful uses of outer space. In this context, useful progress was achieved during the 51st Session of Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee and the 52nd Session of the Legal Sub-Committee.

Mr. Chairman,

Pakistan believes that the UN COPUOS 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.

The Government of 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 the areas of agriculture, water resources, disaster management and mitigation. In the immediate aftermath of an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale that struck the Balochistan province on 24 September 2013, Pakistan immediately requested for tasking of Pleiades satellite for imaging of the affected areas. This meant availability of high resolution images, greatly helping in identifying the most affected areas and estimating the extent of damage.

With international collaboration, Pakistan is developing a space education and awareness programme with a view to creating nationwide awareness and understanding of space applications.

The national space agency of Pakistan, SUPARCO has recently completed the development of a National Environmental Information Management System (NEIMS), creating baseline data on several environmental and climate variables. A cryospheric-monitoring program has been initiated to study the health of glaciers in northern Pakistan, whose work would be supplemented by a planned high-altitude research centre.

Satellite technology is being employed in Pakistan for crop yield estimation and for upgrading the national irrigation network system. A number of agriculture, environmental monitoring and mapping projects are currently underway in collaboration with local authorities and international development agencies, including the FAO.

Pakistan’s communication satellite, PAKSAT-IR, launched in August 2011, is effectively catering to the demands of national telecommunications and broadcast industries, and facilitating use of satellite communications for socio-economic development.

Pakistan is also involved in a number of collaborative projects with international organizations to develop a mechanism for forecasting of floods and early warning systems using remote sensing and GIS technology.

Mr. Chairman,

Pollution of space around the earth by debris left by expendable launch vehicles and inactive satellites is an enduring threat to the long term sustainability of activities in outer space. Future of space exploration and its peaceful use would largely depend on the effectiveness of space debris mitigation measures. It is important to continue improving the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the UNCOPUOS with the aim of developing legally binding rules for limiting space debris in outer space. A comprehensive study on the long term evolution of space debris environment is necessary. Moreover, research, best practices, technologies and early warning information in this area should be available to all stakeholders.

Pakistan is a State Party to the five core United Nations treaties on outer space and is committed to the peaceful uses of outer space. We believe that there is a further need to enhance training and capacity building activities for developing countries in the fields of satellite manufacturing, development of sensors and payloads through the UNCOPUOS so that emerging space-faring nations are able to reap the benefits of the peaceful uses of outer space in an equitable manner.

We believe that outer space activities should be carried out on the basis of international laws and UN principles and guidelines on outer-space activities, as formulated from time to time. Pakistan supports the process of development of regulatory instruments on outer space activities under the UN auspices and believes that benefits of outer space activities and technologies must be shared with the whole of mankind. Pakistan is against any weaponization of outer space.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.