Indonesia reiterates its position on the fair use of geostationary orbits at the UN COPUOS

Head of LAPAN, Prof. Dr. Thomas Djamaluddin was conveying the general views and interventions of the Indonesian delegation in the 60th session of UNCOPOUS which took place in Vienna, Austria. Image courtesy of LAPAN.

The 60th Session of the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) took place from 7-16 June 2017 in Vienna, Austria. The Republic of Indonesia delegation consisting of LAPAN, KEMLU, KEMHAN, TNI AU, and officials from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Vienna attended the hearing. Delegation group was led by Head of LAPAN, Prof. Dr. Thomas Djamaluddin.

This session discussed several important issues, including various ways to safeguard space for peaceful purposes, space and sustainable development, reports of scientific and technical sub-committees, sub-committee reports on law, space and water, space and climate change, utilization of space by UN agencies, future COPUOS roles, and other matters.

The Indonesian delegation delivered general views and interventions related to several agenda discussions. Republic of Indonesia delegates reiterated that space must be used only for peaceful purposes. In this regard, the Indonesian delegation underlined the importance of UN General Assembly Resolution No. 10/1999. 71/90 especially paragraphs 13 and 14.

The point, according to the delegation, is to prevent a race in space and to ensure that space is used only for peaceful purposes. The delegation also encouraged international, regional and inter-regional cooperation.

The Indonesian delegation reaffirmed its position on the definition and delimitation and use of the GeoStationary Orbit (GSO). It wants both topics to be discussed in the COPUOS meetings as well as the scientific and technical subcommittee sessions and the legal subcommittee.

Related to GSO issues, Head of LAPAN RI submitted its intervention. He reiterated Indonesia’s position on the issue of GSO, which is a limited resource and should be utilized “rationally, in a balanced manner, efficiently and fairly”. In relation to this, the Indonesian delegation proposed a special legal regime or sui generis framework related to the utilization of GSO. This is to ensure fair and equitable access, freedom of use, non-appropriation, and exclusively for peaceful purposes only.

Some of the important issues that surfaced in the COPUOS trial include the pros and cons of North Korea as a permanent observer, the proposals of Israel being the second vice chairman of COPUOS for 2018-2019, the preparation of UNSPACE + 50, and the increasing role of COPUOS in the future.

Indonesia’s position

Indonesia has been active and vocal in its position in ensuring that space resources are used equitably.

In 2012, in a paper published in the Indonesian Law Review, (Vol. 2, May – August 2012) Adhy Riadhy Arafah, Lecturer of Air and Space Law, Faculty of Law, Universitas Airlangga, made the following observations:

“The potency and unique characteristics of GSO for placing communication satellites located only above equatorial states makes the GSO as part of natural resources. The equatorial states realized that the use of GSO has many advantages and has implications to their national interest. However, basic principle in space law, Outer Space Treaty 1967 (Art.II), states that equatorial states are forbidden to claim ownership of any part of outer space, particularly claim in sovereignty.

The principle ‘first come first served’ in placing of satellite on GSO, practically only gives the advantage to developed countries which have high satellite technology. Hence, the level of technology of a state plays an important role in developing of space law internationally. The equatorial states which are mostly developing states (low and middle level in technology in outer space activities) claimed their right to use natural resources for their national interest based on equatorial position principle.”

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