The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (STSC), and Hungary’s Space-Related Affairs


               Established by the UNOOSA General Assembly in 1959, COPUOS was initiated for the following purposes:  

to review the scope of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space

to devise programmes to be undertaken in this field under UN auspicesto encourage research and information dissemination about space matters

to study the legal problems that arise from the exploration of outer space

With a current membership of 77, COPUOS represents one of the largest UN Committees. It is comprised of two standing Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. COPUOS and its Subcommittees meet each year separately in order to address questions put forth by the General Assembly, issues raised by submitted reports, and the concerns of Member States. The Fifty-Seventh Session of COPUOS was held during 11-20 June 2014, at the UN Office in Vienna. The Fifty-Eighth Session is set to take place 10-19 June 2015.

Scientific and Technical Subcommittee

               The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of COPUOS meets annually in order to discuss the implications of scientific and technical developments in space-related matters. The Fifty-Second Session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of COPUOS is ongoing (2-13 February 2015). The STSC covers various issues, ranging from the effective remote sensing of the Earth for developmental and environmental reasons, to the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. The Fifty-Second Session of the STSC will focus on the following key agenda items:

Space technology for socioeconomic development in the context of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development and the post-2015 development agenda

Matters relating to remote sensing of the Earth by satellite (environmental monitoring, applications for developing countries)

Early warning monitoring system

Space debris

Space-system-based disaster management support (UN-SPIDER)

Recent developments in global navigation satellite systems

Near-earth space monitoring

Use of nuclear power sources in outer space

Long-term sustainability of outer space activities

The geostationary orbit and its utilization and applications

Central issues of the 52nd Session thus far:

The importance of the needs and interests of developing countries with regard to remote sensing ( environmental monitoring), and geostationary orbit utilization

Several developing countries have placed primacy on the need for equal-footing as it comes to technological change (Brazil, Venezuela, Chile)

Significant tension has emerged in regard to the idea of creating a UN shared information platform for disaster management support

The Russian Federation initiated a discussion on the need for creating an information platform, which would provide a ‘practical’ approach towards long-term sustainability, near-space collaboration, and information sharing

The Russian delegation added that UNOOSA should prepare a technical analysis of such a concept in the near future

The UK has stated that further expert deliberation is required before steps are taken towards such an information platform

The US put forth the view that UNOOSA is not legally/institutionally qualified enough to conduct such an analysis and that expert meetings should indeed take place in order to assess the viability of an information sharing platform

China, Saudi  Arabia, and Mexico indicated their support for Russia’s general proposal, that immediate technical analysis of information sharing possibilities is important

A variety of delegations indicated the existing, wide-ranging benefits of their own space-system-based monitoring technologies, for a broad array of purposes:

Agricultural classification, the identification of environmental risk factors, the mitigation of global warming, risk assessment, loss assessment etc.

The Executive Director of the Hungarian Space Office, Dr. Előd Both, is the presiding Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee for the years 2014/2015. The Hungarian Space Office manages, coordinates and represents Hungarian space activities. It is independent in external relations, yet is administratively integrated into the Ministry of National Development.

Dr. Tari Fruzsina was representing the Hungarian delegation during the 52nd Session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee.

Előd Both

              In 2011, the Eastern Europe Regional Group nominated Dr. Előd Both for the post of Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (STSC) of COPUOS for the period of 2014-2015. Mr. Both has significant experience in the fields of astronomy and space sciences, public relations, and international affairs, and has worked as the Director of the Hungarian Space Office since 1997. His leadership role within the STSC has accompanied an important increase in the collaborative space-related activities of the Hungarian government.

Hungary and International Space Affairs

               Over the past decade, Hungary has become increasingly involved with international space-related matters, in cooperation with both the European Space Agency (ESA), and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). As the first country to have acquired the status of “European Cooperating State” with the European Space Agency in 2003, Hungary formally requested negotiations for accession to the ESA Convention at the end of 2014. Therefore, Hungary is in the position to continue growing its commitments to international space-related cooperation on a European level.

In regard to further international space-related developments, a UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office and National Focal Point were established in Hungary in 2012, in the frame of the Forty-Ninth Session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee. This Regional Support Office supports the global United Nations Platform or Space-based Information and Disaster Management and Emergency Response, and such a contribution further indicated Hungary’s evolving commitment to cooperation in outer space affairs. This is an area of particular interest, given the growing attention that has been given to space-system-based disaster management support in the current session of the STSC.