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11. April 2013

Statement by South Africa Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, 52nd Session of the Legal Sub-Committee



Mr Chairman,

Kindly allow me to congratulate you on the sterling job you are doing in your capacity as Chairman of the Legal Sub-Committee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. This sub-committee has over the years provided invaluable inputs on the development of an orderly conduct in pursuit of a responsive international legal order in the exploration and use of outer space. We are appreciative of the manner in which you continue in the tradition to fashion new rules and perfect existing legal mechanisms to ensure continued sustainability in outer space activities. We look forward to our constructive engagement with the Committee during this session

We further commend the Office of Outer Space Affairs under the leadership of Dr. Mazlan Othman for consistently providing an excellent platform for the exchange of ideas on the international legal order governing the peaceful uses of outer space. We note with regret that this will be Dr. Mazlan Othman’s last Legal Subcommittee session, and we wish to express our heartfelt thanks for her hard work and dedication over the years, and to wish her all the best for the future.

Mr. Chairman,

South Africa has entered an exciting phase in the pursuit of deriving maximum benefits provided by exploration and use of outer space. But we are consistent in our insistence to observe the existing international space legal order and contribute to the positive development of space law in order to achieve the objectives set out in Article 1 of the Outer Space Treaty, inter alia that the exploration and use of outer space remain the province of all mankind, to be exploited in a peaceful manner to maximise the benefits derived therefrom for all humankind.

The South African National Space Agency (“SANSA”) is now fully established and is driving a number of national space activities. These, in the main, cover areas of Earth Observation and its application in addressing societal challenges; space science to better understand solar-Earth interactions and the broader universe; space operations in support of the global space launch and operations market and space engineering to develop our national space technology capability.

Our commitment to fostering respect for international norms of space law is demonstrated by our desire to examine the existing space legal and regulatory framework with a view to reforming our domestic space legislation. We have embarked on a study to review the current national space landscape in light of coming into being of SANSA and the need to re-evaluate and define the regulatory and service functions within our space industry. The review is also demanded by South Africa’s accession to and ratification of both the Liability Convention and the Registration Convention during 2011.

South Africa’s current domestic legislation, the Space Affairs Act of 1993, does not adequately address the need to regulate an increasingly commercialised space environment. We are, therefore, grateful for the work of the Committee’s Working Group on National Legislation Relevant to Peaceful Exploration and Use of Outer Space being performed under the able leadership of Professor Marboe.

Mr Chairman,

The creation of a responsive South African space legal domestic order that recognises, encourages and fosters innovation in the deployment of new space technology for societal development requires expertise and skill in space law. We are pleased to inform you that our capacity-building efforts have gathered pace in both the academic and practical environments. South Africa has hosted the inaugural Africa Round of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Competition on 17 and 18 May 2012 where four teams from three African countries, namely, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, participated. The winning team, from Obafemi Owololo University in Ife, Nigeria competed in the World Finals during IAC 2012 in Naples, Italy.

Mr Chair, allow me to congratulate the Nigerian Moot Court participants and their mentors for their tenacity and great courage displayed in their journey to the World Finals in Naples. We are confident that an African team will participate in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition World Finals in Beijing later this year.

We are pleased to announce that we have at least six teams registered for the Second Round of the Africa Region of the Space Law Moot Court to be held in Nairobi, Kenya later in May this year. These efforts bode well for the training of African space lawyers to assist their respective countries in the further development of their domestic space laws. A course in Space Law has been integrated in the Master of Laws (LLM) program at the University of Pretoria and has attracted 12 students in its first year. We are continuing with our Summer Course on Air, Space and Telecommunications Law at the same University in cooperation with the University of Cologne’s Air and Space Institute to strengthen space law knowledge amongst the legal fraternity on the Continent.

Mr Chairman,

The South African Council for Space Affairs is a regulatory agency responsible for regulating space activity in the country. SACSA has embarked on developing a comprehensive licensing framework under the Space Affairs Act in response to increasing demand for authorisation from prospective space users in South Africa. This process is done in conjunction with the broader review of the Act alluded to earlier. It is envisaged that a licensing model for space activities will ultimately be incorporated in the new domestic space legislation to be developed after the review process is complete.

South Africa puts great emphasis on international cooperation in space use as various space treaties, agreements and resolutions crafted and promoted by this Committee. We are engaged in numerous cooperation mechanisms that we will elaborate on in the various agenda during the course of the Committee’s deliberations.

Mr. Chair, as we have previously announced, South Africa and Australia were awarded the status of being joint hosts of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will promote cooperation in international space law. Another area relates to the renewed vigour on the African Resource Management Constellation (“ARMC”), a cooperative project among Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa to develop and operate a constellation of Earth observation satellites. The aggregate of these international co-operation mechanisms ensure greater access to space applications relevant to address socio-economic development imperatives in a well-coordinated manner.

We take note of the important work on space debris mitigation in the Science and Technology Subcommittee, and the work of its Working Group on the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities, which may have legal consequences.

Mr. Chairman,

We wish to thank the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) and the European Centre for Space Law (ESCL) for organising the Symposium on “The UNIDROIT Space Assets Protocol”, on Monday 8 April 2013. In South Africa, the process to engage the space industry on the Space Assets Protocol is on-going. South Africa places great importance on the Cape Town Convention and the Space Assets Protocol to facilitate cost reduction in the financing of high value mobile assets such as satellites, especially for the developing countries. With this in mind, we are currently reviewing the manner in which the Cape Town Convention has been implemented into our domestic legislation, and thereafter will be consulting relevant stakeholders regarding South Africa’s ratification of the Protocol.

Mr Chairman, We wish the Committee productive discussions during this Session.

Thank You.



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