In July this year, Norway launched two satellites, NorSat-1 and NorSat-2, into orbit as the first of more than 70 small satellites included in a multi-satellite launch. These two satellites will help Norwegian government agencies with a range of tasks, such as monitoring ship traffic, managing fisheries, and conducting search and rescue in the vast open waters of the North Sea.
These latest launches are evidence of Norway’s status as a space nation, with a national launching facility for sounding rockets, a vibrant scientific community and a competitive industry. They are also examples of the considerable increase in the use of – and dependence on – outer space and space technology globally, which has brought with it a sharp increase in the number of objects in space.
Norway recognises outer space as a global common good, to be used for the benefit of mankind, and is a strong supporter of a predictable and rules-based international legal order. In the face of current challenges, it is essential that all countries work together to adopt approaches for responsible activity in space, in order to preserve the right of all nations to explore and use outer space for the benefit of present and future generations.
Existing governance frameworks and rules that seek to guarantee the sustainable use of space for all nations are coming increasingly under strain. This year’s First Committee has a number of resolutions on space to consider. However, while we should be exploring ways to prevent an arms race in outer space, a new legal framework should not be an end in itself.
Transparency and confidence-building measures can make an important contribution to maintaining the security, safety and sustainability of activities in outer space, and to preserving the integrity of the space environment for all. A non-legally binding agreement, negotiated in the UN and modelled on the international Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities that has previously been proposed by the European Union, could be one way to proceed. Let me also emphasise the value of the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.
Norway attaches great importance to the United Nations as an arena for fostering cooperation among States on space. It is in the vital interests of the entire global community to protect the space environment for future generations.
It is against this backdrop that Norway, as a responsible space nation and a staunch supporter of an international framework, has this year formally submitted an application to join the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, COPUOS.
We look forward to cooperating with the rest of the international community and making an active contribution in this forum and others.