The Philippines urged a United Nations group tasked with developing standards of responsible behavior in outer space to develop the duty of “due consideration,” a provision included but not well defined in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.
“The duty of due consideration is a fundamental principle of responsible behavior in space,” Kristine Leilani R. Salle, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, said during an event organized by the Philippine Mission to the United Nations. Nations in Geneva on August 28, on the sidelines of the final meeting of that group, which was held in Geneva from August 28 to September 1.
To elaborate this principle, the Philippine Mission submitted a working paper to that panel, which is officially called the Open-Ended Working Group on Space Threat Reduction through Standards, Rules and Principles of Responsible Behavior (OEWG). In said document it is argued that the “consistency of international law requires that the interpretation of the duty of ‘due consideration’ in the context of international space law does not depart drastically from its current application in the framework of the law of the sea”.
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“Law of the sea jurisprudence has since clarified that the duty of ‘due consideration’ represents a balance of rights and interests among States, and between States and the international community as a whole,” explained Noelle Riza D. Castillo, Director for Space Policy and International Cooperation of the Philippine Space Agency.
During the official sessions of the OEWG, a large number of countries insisted that all space activities must be carried out respecting this obligation of “due consideration”. In addition, there is increasing support for a series of measures based on this principle. These include a moratorium on any intentional creation of space junk and a mechanism for exchanging notifications related to rocket launches.
Many countries, including the Philippines, are vulnerable to debris from rocket launches. Despite these converging views, the OEWG was unable to agree on a set of recommendations to the UN General Assembly. This was because the group had to work by consensus, which means that any state can veto the proceedings.
There is growing support for a number of measures, including a moratorium on any intentional creation of space junk and a mechanism for the exchange of notifications related to rocket launches.
However, many States considered that the OEWG was the beginning of the conversation.
“The work we have done on this OEWG is a great starting point that complements other efforts related to improving security in outer space,” said Second Secretary Jonelle John S. Domingo, speaking on behalf of thirty-nine State.
“The GTCA has proven to be a constructive platform for an inclusive dialogue between the Member States with the participation of all stakeholders in the reduction of space threats”, continued Domingo.
The joint declaration of the Philippine diplomat was supported by Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Spain. , Luxembourg, Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria, New Zealand, Norway, the Netherlands, Panama, Peru, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay.