SDD2021

Borderless Security Crises and Multilateral Responses

Special Session 3

International Security Cooperation for the Peaceful and Responsible Use of Space

Background

Traditional space superpowers, private companies, and even middle powers are all joining the space race, complex geopolitical and geo-economic security competition is intensifying in the space domain. Consequently, the space security environment is now facing a paradigm shift.

The space domain, which has traditionally been dominated by governments, is witnessing the arrival of private actors. Major changes in the domain include the commercialization of space assets such as reusable space launch vehicles and space internet. Moreover, government and military reliance on commercial technologies is growing by the day. Space superpowers including the United States are expanding the scope of military operations into the space domain by establishing space forces, conducting operations to protect its space systems, and developing weapons that can destroy adversary space assets. As a result, concerns over the peaceful use of space are increasing.

The commercialization and militarization of space have led to new concerns regarding space debris, which poses a significant threat to sustainable and safe activities in space. As dual-use technologies, such as those intended to remove space debris, can also be used for military purposes against hostile space assets to destroy or to push it out of orbital trajectory, international cooperation to address sustainable space development and the transparent use of space technologies are becoming increasingly important.

While these issues pose a serious threat to the safety, security, and sustainability of space activities, the current international space laws that govern activities in the domain have been ineffectual in regulating the military and commercial use of space. Even though the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) has realized the shortcomings of the current regime of space norms and standards, and has begun the discussion on the legal framework to address new forms of space activities and dangers, an international consensus on the matter is yet to emerge.

Therefore, there is a need to energize discussions between regions and groups with similar approach to space in conjunction with UN-led multilateral efforts. It is also important for countries in the Asia Pacific, which are fast becoming important actors in space, to discuss cooperation with the private sector.

Key Topics of Discussion

Characteristics of and changes in the space security environment

Multilateral efforts to improve transparency in the space domain

Multilateral security cooperation measures for the peaceful use of space, centered on the establishment of international norms and standardsn