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– Suzanne DiMaggio
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
Space Code Meeting Postponed
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Timothy Farnsworth

The second diplomatic meeting of space-faring countries on the European Union’s proposed international code of conduct for space, which was supposed to take place in October in New York, has been postponed until some time in 2013, an EU official familiar with the issue said last month.

In an October e-mail exchange with Arms Control Today, the official cited criticism by some countries over the proximity in timing to the UN General Assembly meeting that began in September. According to the official, those countries argued that an October meeting on the space code of conduct could create the impression that the effort to craft the code was part of a UN process. The EU, along with its “main partners,” reassessed the issue in September and made the decision that “the greatest risk was to get stuck in a procedural discussion,” the official said.

In a July 31 statement to the Conference on Disarmament on its plans for the meeting, the EU said it had decided to hold the gathering in October “to benefit from the presence of colleagues following the UN General Assembly First and Fourth Committees.” (See ACT, September 2012.)

According to the official, a new date and location have not been chosen, but the meeting could take place in a new space-faring country. The official said this “would increase our message that this initiative is for everyone, not only Western Countries.”

The most recent draft of the code was released in June at the first meeting of the countries seeking to create the code of conduct, which would not be legally binding. It would seek to reduce the risk of collisions in space, creating a “peaceful, safe and secure outer space environment,” according to the current draft text. (See ACT, January/February 2009.)