460. Position Paper Prepared for the Fourteenth Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly1
(PROGRAM FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN THE FIELD OF OUTER SPACE)
The General Assembly will have before it the report prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space which was established by the last General Assembly in resolution 1348 (XIII). This report covers:
- The activities and resources of the UN, its specialized agencies, and other international bodies relating to the peaceful uses of outer space;
- The area of international cooperation and programs in the peaceful uses of outer space which could appropriately be undertaken under United Nations auspices;
- The future organizational arrangements which might be established within the framework of the UN to facilitate international cooperation in this field; and
- The nature of the legal problems arising as a consequence of the exploration and use of outer space.
The Assembly must decide what action should be taken on this report and the nature and extent of future UN activities in this field.
United States Position
1. The United States should take the view that the peaceful uses of outer space should continue to be considered separately from the disarmament aspects.
2. The United States should make every effort to keep the discussion of this item on an objective, non-political basis, seeking if possible to obtain unanimous action on this item.
3. The United States, with representative cosponsors, should introduce a draft resolution which:
- accepts the report of the Ad Hoc Committee;
- calls for the establishment of a General Assembly Committee whose members would serve until the Sixteenth General Assembly to:
- (1) Review, as appropriate, the subject matters entrusted by the General Assembly to the Ad Hoc Committee established in resolution 1348 (XIII);
- (2) Study practical and feasible means for giving effect to programs of international cooperation including those indicated by the Ad Hoc Committee in its report under paragraph 1 (b) of the resolution;
- (3) Consider means, as appropriate, for studying and resolving legal problems which may arise in the carrying out of programs for the exploration of outer space;
- (4) Report, annually, to the General Assembly on its activities in implementation of the foregoing;
c. requests the Secretary General to organize a small unit within the Secretariat which will in concert with the Committee provide a focal point for facilitating international cooperation with respect to outer space activities undertaken by governments, specialized agencies, and international scientific organizations; and provide appropriate assistance as the Committee may require.
4. The United States should be prepared to consult with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, after consultations with our key allies, on the composition of such a committee. The proposals to be made and the tactics to be pursued are contained in the discussion section.
At the Thirteenth General Assembly, the United States, together with nineteen other states, sponsored a resolution on the peaceful uses of outer space. The resolution established an Ad Hoc Committee of eighteen members to provide the next General Assembly with information it needed in order to proceed with measures designed to further international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
The United States, in submitting the original agenda item on the peaceful uses of outer space, explained that it believed that the disarmament aspects of outer space could be dealt with separately, and that failure to make progress in this area should not be permitted to prevent the United Nations from taking constructive action on the peaceful uses of outer space. The Soviet Union, which had submitted a separate proposal linking the peaceful uses of outer space to disarmament and to the question of overseas military bases, eventually agreed to deal only with the peaceful uses aspect. The ensuing discussion revealed that there was no real disagreement in substance between the United States and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the terms of reference of the Ad Hoc Committee.
The key question arose with respect to the composition of the committee that would begin substantive work. The Soviet Union insisted that there must be balanced representation from the Soviet bloc and the free world (”parity”). The United States insisted that the committee should be composed on a representative basis, taking appropriate account of technical capacity. The General Assembly [Page 889] adopted this approach and on December 13, 1958, established the Ad Hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, consisting of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Sweden, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Arab Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.
Following this action by the Assembly, the U.S.S.R., Czechoslovakia and Poland all announced that, although they had been named to this committee, they would not participate in its work.
Prior to the convening of the committee in the spring of 1959, the United States endeavored unsuccessfully to convince the Soviet Union to participate. India and the UAR, after extensive consultations, also decided not to attend. They argued that the matter had now become a “cold-war” exercise. They also contended that without the U.S.S.R. the committee could not carry out its mandate.
In May 1959, the committee began its work with thirteen of the eighteen members participating. Space scientists, legal experts and others, combined their efforts in committee and sub-committee discussions which lasted over a month. The resulting report, which fully carried out each of the directives of the resolution, was adopted unanimously and is now before the Fourteenth General Assembly.
The report is objective and factual. It was drafted in such a way as to leave political decisions to the General Assembly. It has been reported that the Soviet Union does not consider the report to be objectionable. However, if a resolution which states that the General Assembly “accepts” the Ad Hoc Committee’s report should prove to be an obstacle in obtaining Soviet agreement, the United States should propose that the General Assembly “notes” rather than “accepts” the report. (First word, sixth preambulatory paragraph, subparagraph (1) of the draft resolution.)
The crucial issue will undoubtedly continue to be the problem of composition of any United Nations body in this field. Although the U.S.S.R. may continue to insist upon “parity”, the United States cannot accept “parity” because (a) we cannot accept the proposition that the world is divided into two equal power blocs for this concept denies the basic Charter principle of the equality of all members, and runs counter to the principle of geographical representation; and (b) it ignores the fact that the peaceful uses of outer space are of interest to all of the members of the United Nations and that many states are involved in outer space activities.
As the achievements of the Soviet Union in this field are outstanding, the United States believes that a committee established by the United Nations to facilitate international cooperation in the field of [Page 890] the peaceful uses of outer space should reflect somewhat greater Soviet bloc participation than would be warranted on the basis of geographic representation in the United Nations.
In negotiating with the Soviet Union, we should propose a composition of nine free world states (Canada, Japan, US, UK, France, Italy, Australia, and two Latin American states as selected by the Latin American caucus, preferably Mexico, and Brazil or Argentina), four Soviet bloc states (Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Romania) and four neutrals (India, United Arab Republic, Sweden and Yugoslavia), giving a composition of 9–4–4. If this formula is not acceptable to the Soviet Union but there is indication that they are prepared to negotiate in good faith on this question in order to establish a committee, the United States would be prepared to consider some modification of this formula. The Department should be kept currently informed of the progress of negotiations on this question. Because of Mexican participation in Project Mercury, the United States should encourage Mexico to advance its candidacy in the Latin American caucus.
After appropriate consultations with other members of the Assembly, we should be prepared at the proper stage to negotiate composition with the Soviet Union directly in accordance with the tactics outlined above.
The United States, in its initial presentation of this subject in the Committee, should be prepared to indicate specific projects which can be taken up by the Committee once it is established. Such delineation of areas which are appropriate for early consideration and action will serve both to maintain our initiative in this field; and to forestall other, less profitable initiatives.
It should also be made clear that the United States remains ready to discuss the disarmament aspects of outer space within the proper context. The decision to proceed with measures designed to facilitate international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space recognizes (1) that these two aspects of outer space can be considered separately, and (2) that purposeful action in the area of peaceful uses need not await solution of the complex problems relating to disarmament.
The General Assembly,
Recognizing the common interest of mankind as a whole in furthering the peaceful use of outer space,[Page 891]
Believing that the exploration and use of outer space should be only for the betterment of mankind,
Desiring to avoid the extension of present national rivalries into this new frontier,
Noting the continuing programs of scientific cooperation in the exploration of outer space undertaken by the international scientific community,
Believing that the report prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in implementation of Resolution 1348 (XIII), provides useful information for future international cooperation in this field,
Believing also that the United Nations should continue to facilitate international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space,
1. Accepts the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space;
2. Expresses the appreciation of the General Assembly to the scientific and legal experts who participated in the preparation of this report;
3. Establishes a Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space,
consisting of:__ …2 (states) whose members will serve until the Sixteenth General Assembly to:
- a. Review, as appropriate, the subject matters entrusted by the General Assembly to the Ad Hoc Committee established in Resolution 1348 (XIII);
- b. Study practical and feasible means for giving effect to programs of international cooperation including those indicated by the Ad Hoc Committee in its report under paragraph 1 (b) of the resolution;
- c. Consider means, as appropriate, for studying and resolving legal problems which may arise in the carrying out of programs in the exploration of outer space;
- d. Report to succeeding General Assemblies on its activities in implementation of the foregoing;
4. Requests the Secretary General to organize a small unit within the Secretariat which will in concert with the Committee provide a focal point for facilitating international cooperation with respect to outer space activities undertaken by governments, specialized agencies, and international scientific organizations; and render appropriate assistance to the Committee.