426. Report of the U.S. Delegation to the Second Session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space1

[Here follow sections 1–8.]

9. Conclusions.

The work of the Second Session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee consisted largely of a review and continuation of the work begun at its first session a year ago. In one sense it might be said that the Subcommittee was still feeling its way toward practical means of fulfilling its generally understood role as a catalyst in the process of cooperation among nations in the peaceful exploration of outer space. Reflected in the final report of the Subcommittee was a more refined appreciation of areas where its recommendations can most property and effectively be addressed and a better understanding of its limitations, both with regard to scientific competence and quasi-political judgments. At the same time, however, a general characteristic of this session was the lack of any real demonstrated interest in most of the proceedings on the part of the noncommitted and smaller countries. The single exception to this was their great interest in the subject of training and assistance in space fields.
Of the six Middle Eastern and African countries which are members of the Subcommittee, only Iran and the United Arab Republic were represented at this Session. Representatives of Sweden and Brazil were present only during the last few days of the Session and took no part in the work of the Subcommittee.
The United States Delegation played a major role in consideration of the problem of making available to Member States information about outer space activities which would help them keep informed about such activities in other countries, assist them in evaluating their own plans for activity in space work, and indicate to them sources of further information and facilities for assistance. In its Report, the Subcommittee adopted most of the proposals suggested by the United States. The Delegation was unsuccessful, however, in its efforts to have the Subcommittee reinforce its earlier recommendation that the United Nations Secretariat compile information received by it on a voluntary [Page 971] basis by Member States in concise tabular form so that such information would be most useful to those requiring it. It seemed clear that the Soviet Delegation wished to avoid any action which would serve to highlight Soviet failure to provide any information at all concerning its national space program. Similarly, in formulating the Subcommittee’s recommendation that a survey be prepared of national and cooperative international space activities, the Soviet Delegation insisted that this matter be considered once again in the parent Committee prior to the actual preparation of such a survey.
The Subcommittee’s recommendations on education and training fell far short of a reflection of the interest and enthusiasm exhibited by the developing countries which participated in the session. Soviet refusal to accept any recommendation which would in any way imply a commitment on the part of the Soviet Union to assist others in the field of space activities was so insistent that several other Delegates in drafting session became visibly upset. This was in marked contrast to the attitude of the United States Delegation, which, although not represented in the drafting session, submitted two informational working papers setting forth the various possibilities for education and training supported by NASA, and those activities supported by the United States Weather Bureau in the field of satellite meteorology. The substantive recommendation finally adopted is a useful first step in identifying for those Member States desiring help in education and training the existing facilities for such assistance in other countries.
While the United States Delegation did not encourage substantive consideration of the problem of potentially harmful interference with space activities and pointed out that effective consideration of this problem lay with the Legal Subcommittee, I believe the discussions on this matter and the recommendations adopted by the Subcommittee reflect a step forward in the Subcommittee’s definition of its role. For the first time in the history of the Committee and the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, it was recognized implicitly and unanimously that the question of ending nuclear weapons tests lay beyond the competence of the Subcommittee and that the only proper action was to point out the potential hazards of nuclear testing to other space experiments. Similarly, there was a general understanding that the Subcommittee was not qualified to pass quantitative judgment on national space activities which could interfere with other peaceful uses of outer space. Specific mention was drawn to the existence of the independent scientifically qualified body established by COSPAR which is available for quantitative analysis of the potential effects of planned space experiments when such assistance is needed.
As described earlier in this report, the Soviet Delegate sought energetically to evoke a statement by the Subcommittee to the effect [Page 972] that lack of progress in formalizing general principles governing the conduct of man’s activity in outer space seriously prejudiced the work of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee in its efforts to encourage international cooperation in this field. With the exception of the other Bloc Delegations there was no support for this point of view. Indeed, most of the Delegations which spoke in the general debate rejected the Soviet contention that the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee was hamstrung in its work because of lack of formal agreement in the Legal Subcommittee. At the close of the general debate, the United States spoke again in defense of this latter point of view, rehearsing the large measure of understanding reached during the meetings of the Legal Subcommittee even though no formal agreements had been registered, and suggesting that the Subcommittee proceed with its own work without becoming preoccupied with matters which had been directed by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to another Subcommittee. The Soviet Delegation received no effective support for inclusion of its proposals on this matter in the final report of the Subcommittee, although the Soviet Delegate did make a final statement for the record decrying the failure of the Subcommittee to address itself to this matter.
I recommend that full United States support be given to adoption by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space of the various recommendations and proposals forwarded to it by the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee. I further recommend that the United States continue its participation in the work of the Subcommittee, seeking to encourage those impulses toward international cooperation in the peaceful exploration of outer space which motivate the basic United Nations interest in this field.

[Here follows a list of Annexes: Annex I, Report of the Subcommittee; Annex II, Summary Records; Annex III, Working Papers; Annex IV, Major U.S. Statements; and Annex V, U.S. Informational Working Papers on Education and Training. None of the Annexes is printed.]

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, Space Activities, General, 1/63–5/63, Box 307. No classification marking. The session was held in Geneva May 14–29. Homer E. Newell led the U.S. Delegation.