Statement by Germany at the Meeting of the First Committee on “Outer Space”, 19 October 2023

19.10.2023 - Speech

The Statement was delivered by Benjamin Himmler, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany at the Conference on Disarmament.

Mr. Chair,

Germany fully aligns itself with the statement by the EU on the Thematic Discussion on Outer Space at the 78th Session of the First Committee at the United Nations General Assembly.

The peaceful and sustainable use of space underpins our everyday life and is an essential driver for socio-economic, scientific and technological progress of all states and serves to achieve the UN sustainable development goals.

Germany remains firmly committed to avoiding conflict and enhancing security in outer space with the ultimate aim of preventing an arms race. There are different ways for pursuing this goal. In his report under UNGA resolution 76/230 the UN Secretary General recommends “a combination of binding and non-binding norms”, and the space policy brief for the Summit of the Future mentions the “development of international norms, rules and principles to address threats to space systems”.

My country has always strongly advocated the Open-ended Working Group on “Reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviors” as a future-orientated approach in this endeavor. In the OEWG, States discussed the international framework, risks and threats to space security and first elements of possible norms for responsible behaviors in a hitherto unprecedented manner.

And as the former Chair of the working group (Hellmut Lagos) said in his briefing today: thanks to the inclusive and comprehensive discussions all States have significantly broadened their understanding of space security and first areas of convergence have emerged. We should not address security threats in a binary logic, but rather lean on different approaches which mutually reinforce each other and contribute to this end.

It is regrettable that part of the mandate conferred to the OEWG by this General Assembly remained unfulfilled due to resistance of one delegation. We feel however encouraged by the broad and cross-regional support expressed for the OEWG through active participation of delegations, the impressive amount of working papers and the two joint statements made by countries from different geographic backgrounds and with different degrees of economic and scientific development calling for the continuation of the process.

Ladies and gentlemen,

That is why Germany is supporting and co-sponsoring this year’s new resolution on responsible behaviors, which builds on the momentum generated and sets up a new OEWG in 2025 and 2026. We believe that existing working strands – including the upcoming GGE on PAROS in which my country will constructively participate – should complement and not compete each other. Avoidable parallel processes, as created by this year’s Further Practical Measures Resolution, might create capacity problems and substantial and legal twilight instead and is in the interest of none.

Before concluding, please allow me to briefly mention two more very positive results achieved over the year. By now, a total number of 35 states made a political commitment not to conduct direct-ascent destructive ASAT missile tests, based on the UNGA resolution 77/41 adopted by 160 states last year. Germany and all EU member states have joined the initiative and we encourage all states to make their national commitment as soon as possible with the goal of universalizing this concrete norm of responsible behavior with tangible effects.

Furthermore, earlier this year the UN Disarmament Commission made consensus recommendations on the implementation of Transparency and Confidence Building Measures based on the 2013 GGE report. In its national contribution to the Secretary’s General report on TCBMs published this summer, Germany laid out its national and international efforts in implementing TCBMs in outer space. They are an important means towards more transparency and conflict prevention in space when geopolitical tensions are rising.

My country will continue to promote the preservation of a safe, secure, sustainable and peaceful space environment. Outer space must remain a common good to be used for the benefit and in the interest of all humankind.

Thank you.

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