The EU officially started on 5 June the multilateral diplomatic process aimed at drafting an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. With the rising level of space activities, the EU took the leading role in ensuring greater security and legal certainty in outer space.
Space is undoubtedly a resource for all countries in the world, and many are rapidly developing their space programmes. The EU will sponsor a pragmatic and incremental process to ensure security in outer space activities.
The EU initiative for an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities was launched at the end of 2008 and it would be applicable to all outer space activities conducted by States or nongovernmental entities, outlining the basic rules to be observed in both civil and defence space programmes.
This initiative proved to be much needed after one of the candidates for Republican presidential nominee in the US suggested that his country should start building mining colonies on the Moon and after a conglomerate of billionaires announced they would start working on projects aimed at mining asteroids.
The outer space code is already supported by a number of spacefaring countries, including the US, Japan and India.
The meeting was used as an occasion for the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) to launch its "Facilitating the Process for the Development of an international Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities" project. In parallel with the EU’s diplomatic initiative, the project aims to facilitate exchange of views on the Code of Conduct, which should facilitate its finalisation.
Under the chairmanship of the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Maciej Popowski, 110 participants from more than 40 countries gathered in Vienna to discuss the draft Code, based on comments following series of bilateral meetings with partners.
More substantial negotiations on this draft will start at the Multilateral Experts Meeting of October in New York, which will be open to all UN member countries. Adoption of the Code is expected in 2013.