Statement of the Kingdom of the Netherlands delivered by H.E. Robert in den Bosch, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament and Ambassador at large at the Fourth Session of the Open-ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours.
In addition to the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union, and the joint cross-regional statement delivered by the Philippines on behalf of 33 States, I would like to make the following remarks in my national capacity.
Mr. Chair, allow me to start by thanking you for your work as Chair. Under your able leadership, the OEWG has resulted in some truly commendable achievements, fostering a substantive and inclusive debate among States and other stakeholders. Furthermore, the OEWG has significantly advanced cross-regional discussions on space security issues.
Given the rapid technological developments and the growing dependencies within the space domain, promoting responsible behaviour in outer space is of utmost importance. We believe that establishing norms of responsible behaviour is complementary to the rules laid out in existing international law, rather than being a matter of competition.
Building trust and confidence, implementing practical measures, and abiding by globally accepted norms and principles for responsible behaviour can go hand in hand with strengthening the current framework of legally binding measures. Therefore, the OEWG has contributed in its own way to the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
This week we gather to work on an outcome document that serves a common goal of reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours.
In our view, this document should reaffirm our commitment to the timely registration of information in the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space. In addition, we consider that the The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC) should be specifically referenced. Another confidence building measure that should be included is a UN Global Points of Contact (PoC) Directory.
In accordance with Article III of the Outer Space Treaty, we must acknowledge that the entire body of international law applies in outer space. The law of armed conflict, both the ius ad bellum and the ius in bello, are applicable in outer space as they are on earth.
It is misleading to argue that universal recognition of the applicability of international humanitarian law would increase the chances of armed conflict in space. The regulation of conceivable threats does not cause these threats to occur, nor does a lack of regulation prevent them from occurring in any way. Clearly, the exact opposite is true.
We recognise the impact of activities in space on civil society and reiterate that no distinction should be made between civilian and military space systems.
We emphasize the importance of synergy between the various (UN)-fora dealing with space safety, security, and sustainability. We also underline the value of a multistakeholder approach. We thus welcome the inclusive process of the OEWG, which has brought together various stakeholders from both private and public sectors.
Other relevant topics we need to seek agreement on include, but are not limited to, addressing the creation of space debris by the destruction of space systems, Rendez-Vous & Proximity Operations (RPOs), Transparency and Confidence Building Measures (TCBMs) and wider sharing of space situational awareness (SSA) data for monitoring responsible behaviour in space.
Looking ahead, it is crucial that the work in the upcoming GGE on PAROS builds on the achievements of this OEWG. Furthermore, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is committed to preserve the momentum built by the OEWG and would be supportive of a continuation of the OEWG process in some form. Preferably, this follow-up would start after the closure of the GGE on PAROS to prevent them from running in parallel.
Chair, let me conclude by saying that you can continue to count on the full support of my delegation to work towards a substantive consensus outcome document.
Thank you, Chair.