The 58th session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) started this week at the Vienna International Centre. For the first time, the Committee is considering transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities, a classical space security topic, and how they relate to the safety of space operations and the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. This is a preparatory exploration of the topics that will be covered during a joint ad hoc meeting of the First and Fourth Committees of the General Assembly in late October. The report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-building Measures in Outer Space Activities (http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/oosadoc/data/documents/2014/aac.105/aac.1051080_0.html) will be at the centre of those considerations. These are all closely linked to sustainable development on Earth.

The Committee this year also will decide on the special theme of its session for 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first UN Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer space (UNISPACE I) which was held in 1968. “UNISPACE+50” will build on the post-2015 development agenda where stronger space governance and supporting structures are required to protect the space environment and secure the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

Finally, the Committee’s Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Affairs will continue to negotiate a set of voluntary guidelines, which, when finalized, will provide a foundation for national and international practices and safety frameworks for conducting outer space activities.