25. March 2014

Statement by Mrs. Lydia Greyling, Alternate Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa


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                South Africa warmly congratulates you on being elected the Chairperson of this august body.  My delegation wishes you a productive and successful tenure at the helm of the Legal Subcommittee. Your expertise and insights of developments in international space policy and regulation assure us that the Legal Subcommittee will reach greater heights in the progressive development of new norms and rules in space exploration and use.  We look forward to constructive engagement in the Committee during the next two years under your guidance.

We also wish to express our appreciation to the outgoing Chair, Dr Tare Brisibe. Under his sterling leadership, the Legal Subcommittee held some of the most memorable and robust sessions, continuing the tradition of fashioning new rules and maximising the impact of existing legal mechanisms to ensure continued sustainability in outer space activities.  We are appreciative of the manner in which Dr Brisibe encouraged robust engagement during the Sessions of the Legal Subcommittee. We wish him well and success in his future endeavours.

South Africa wishes to congratulate the new Executive Director, Ms Simonetta Di Pippo. South Africa looks forward to working with you.


                South Africa continues to develop and explore the best possible ways to ensure that space activities are conducted in accordance and in compliance with the existing international legal framework. We will continue to contribute to the development of space law in order to achieve the objectives set out in relevant international space treaties and conventions. 

                In this context, South Africa went through a meticulous exercise to license the country’s first cube-sat developed by students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) pursuant to Articles VI, VII and VIII of the Outer Space Treaty as well as domestic space legislation. The registration of cube-sat will be the third addition to our National Register of Space Objects. The licensing process has provided our regulatory agency, the South African Council for Space Affairs (SACSA) with the necessary experience and skills to authorise and supervise our national space activities. It is trusted that South Africa will gain more experience on the regulatory aspect from the proceedings of the Workshop on Regulatory Requirements of small satellites organised by the International Institute of Space Law and the European Centre for Space Law.  We are grateful for the initiative of these two organisations who contributed towards capacity-building of regulators from numerous countries around the world . In this regard, South Africa is also looking forward to the symposium on Small Satellites which will be held at the University of Vienna this weekend.


                The process to reform our domestic space legislation to incorporate emerging trends in international space activities is well underway and South Africa expects to have a new Space Affairs Act in the near future.  The South African National Space Agency (“SANSA”) is the implementing body for the National Space Program, which includes exciting elements such as development of small and medium satellites, mainly for Earth Observation and related applications, to address socio-economic challenges. It also includes a space science programme operating a Regional Space Weather Lab designed to better understand the Sun-Earth interactions; as well as a space operations division which provides mission support services for global space actors.

In order to ensure a coordinated governance of space activities, the regulatory and implementation functions as defined by our legislative instruments have been further clarified in a Protocol on Space Governance signed by the Minister of Trade and Industry and the Minister of Science and Technology. The protocol allocates the responsibility of policy and regulatory functions to the Minister of Trade and Industry and responsibility for implementation of the national space programme to the Minister of Science and Technology.


                South Africa attaches great importance to capacity-building initiatives on the African continent. It is in this regard that South Africa organised the inaugural Africa Round of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Competition in 2012, the Second Africa Round was held in Nairobi, Kenya, and this year we are looking forward to participating in the Third Africa Round which will be hosted in Abuja, Nigeria. Nine teams from three countries, namely, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, will participate in this year’s competition. The increasing number of teams participating is a testimony to the growing interest for this exciting competition which will in turn produce a pool of law graduates specialising in space law.


                South Africa’s space programme has benefitted greatly from international cooperation. To that end, we are grateful to the Office of Outer Space Affairs for sponsoring a Space Law session during the biennial African Leadership Conference for Space Science and Technology held in Accra, Ghana during December 2012. The resolutions adopted at this Conference go a long way to increase capacity building efforts in all space-faring countries on the African continent.

Through the use of space technology, South Africa continues to pursue better decision-making processes through the African Resource Management Constellation (ARMC), which is a cooperative project among Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa to develop and operate a constellation of Earth observation satellites. Furthermore, my delegation is pleased to inform that the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is well underway with the first dish being officially launched on 27 March 2014. These international cooperative efforts contribute to promote cooperation in international space law.   


                The growing problem of space debris is a concern for all space actors. One of our university-built cube-sats, which was launched in November 2013, and which has no manoeuvring capability, experienced two near misses with defunct space objects last month. Clearly, urgent, pragmatic actions are required by the international community to preserve the outer space environment for beneficiaries of space activities. We are therefore pleased that the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee has made significant progress in the development of draft guidelines for future space activities. We look forward to the completion of the report and guidelines of this Working Group in the coming year. These voluntary best-practice guidelines, though legally non-binding, will have legal implications. My delegation believes that in future this Subcommittee could give consideration to the legal implications of the guidelines for long-term sustainability in a similar manner to which we are giving consideration in this session of the Subcommittee to a general exchange of views and legal mechanisms relating to the space debris mitigation measures and the general exchange of information on non-legally binding United Nations instruments on outer space, This would also form a closer link with the work of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee in this topic.


In conclusion, my delegation welcomes the establishment of the new Working Group on Exchange of Information on UN Non-binding Instruments and assures its Chair, Prof Setsouki, of South Africa’s full support in her work.

We wish you and the Committee a productive Session.

Thank you.

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