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Home    >   Other Statements   >  Statement by Ms Rachita Bhandari, First Secretary (Disarmament), Permanent Mission of India to the Conference on Disarmament, at the UNIDIR Space Security Conference in Geneva on April 20, 2017

Statement by Ms Rachita Bhandari, First Secretary (Disarmament), Permanent Mission of India to the Conference on Disarmament, at the UNIDIR Space Security Conference in Geneva on April 20, 2017


“Celebrating the Outer Space Treaty: 50 Years of Space Governance and Stability”

20–21 April 2017, Palais des Nations, United Nations Office at Geneva

A conference organized by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)

in collaboration with the Secure World Foundation and The Simons Foundation Canada


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank UNIDIR, as well as Secure World Foundation and the Simons Foundation Canada for organizing the 2017 Space Security Conference. The event assumes greater importance as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty, as well as the 60th anniversary of the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik 1.

The world’s increasing dependency on space systems warrants uninterrupted services and the protection of space assets from varied threats, both space-based – natural and intentional – space debris, placement of weapons in Outer Space, interference and space weather as well as ground-based threats – ASAT tests, attacks on ground based infrastructure, direct energy weapons and cyber threats.

The unsustainable growth of space debris is posing a major threat to the sustainability of Outer Space activities for peaceful purposes.

India, for its part, has actively contributed as a member of the Inter Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee. We have implemented space debris mitigation guidelines in all missions. The measures undertaken include venting of excess fuel and stage passivation for upper stages, as well as satellite separation sequence for collision free separation. Collision Avoidance assessments and studies on long-term evaluation and stability of space debris have also been undertaken. The Space Objects Proximity Analysis is being done since 2009. Tracking is being done through the Multi Object Tracking Radar Facility, which tracks 10 objects at a time with a slant range of 1000 kms above earth.

To protect space systems from adverse impacts of Space weather, a Regional Space Weather Warning Centre is operating at the National Physical Laboratory. This is a part of the International Space Environment Services Chain. The Indian Institute of Science Education and Research is working on space weather conditions such as Coronal Mass Ejection dynamics and its interaction with solar winds. India is also undertaking the Aditya L1 Mission which aims to place a solar observatory to allow uninterrupted views of the sun.

India joined the Hague Code of Conduct and the MTCR in 2016. India places importance on international cooperation for peaceful uses of Outer Space. Currently, formal instruments of cooperation are in place with 39 countries and four international organizations. India signed 11 documents on space cooperation with 8 countries in the last one year. Through these documents, space cooperation with Afghanistan, Viet Nam and the UAE has been formally established; and the scope of cooperation has been enhanced with Canada, France, Japan, Russia and the USA.

Over the past five decades, India has emerged as a major space faring nation. Our space programme has both developmental and security dimensions. We have a well-established and highly cost-effective space launch vehicle programme. We have had successful missions to the Moon and Mars. Earlier this year, ISRO successfully launched 104 satellites on board the PSLV-C37, creating a record for the highest number of satellites launched in one single mission.

The emphasis of the Indian space programme has always been on integrating the advances in space technology and applications with the national development goals. ISRO is currently working with 60 Ministries and Departments of Government of India on promoting space technology tools and application for good governance and national development.

ISRO continues to share its facilities and expertise in the application of space science and technology through the United Nations affiliated Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific at Dehradun. As of now, there are about 1,600 beneficiaries from as many as 52 countries.

India believes that Outer Space should be an ever expanding frontier of cooperative endeavor rather than an area of conflict. This places a responsibility on all space-faring nations to contribute to international efforts to safeguard Outer Space as the common heritage of humankind and preserve and promote the benefits flowing from advances made in space technology and its applications for all. As a space faring nation with wide ranging interests in Outer Space activities, we remain opposed to the weaponisation of Outer Space and we support collective efforts to strengthen the safety and security of space based assets.

India is party to all the major international treaties relating to Outer Space; having ratified the Outer Space Treaty, the Rescue Agreement, the Liability Convention and the Registration Convention; and being signatory to the Moon Agreement.

India participates actively in the discussions on Long Term Sustainability of Outer Space activities at the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. While some differences remain among member states on some of the guidelines, we hope that a complete set of guidelines will be adopted by next year. We believe that once finalized, these guidelines will contribute to enhancement of confidence-building in outer space activities and serve the purpose of safety, security and long term sustainability of outer space. We also hope that these guidelines will form a part of a broader framework aimed at fostering the sustainable use of outer space.

India supports the substantive consideration of the issue of PAROS in the CD, whose membership includes all major space faring nations and where it has been on the agenda since 1982, including, inter-alia, negotiations in a subsidiary body as part of a Programme of Work as called for by UNGA resolution 69/31, which India has traditionally cosponsored.

In our discussions we need to focus on what the CD could usefully do in addressing the multiple threats relating to Outer Space, keeping in mind the objective of strengthening the international legal regime on Outer Space activities.   It is important that member States be given the incentive to protect their interests by investing in legally binding multilateral instruments rather than by resorting to national measures or interim and partial steps that do not fully address the concerns of all space actors.

India has participated in the consultations called by the EU since 2012 to discuss a draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. We believe that the Code of Conduct should be of a voluntary, non-legally binding nature. It should be non-discriminatory and internationally acceptable.

India is prepared to give consideration to the revised PPWT presented by Russia and China in CD 1985/2042 as a contribution to the various proposals for negotiating a legally-binding instrument in the CD. There are important gaps in the draft text raising questions as to its utility in addressing current and emerging challenges and there would be value in future in-depth examination of these questions.

While it was unfortunate that India was not included in the GGE on TCBMs, we would continue our support towards the adoption of guidelines on LTS of Outer Space activities in Vienna as well the adoption of a mandate on PAROS in the CD in Geneva so that all proposals including the draft PPWT and the EU Code of Conduct could be taken up for discussion. Further, the third leg in New York – UNDC and/or the First Committee - could continue to be used for building mutual confidence and raising awareness.

Thank you.

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