15. April 2013

Statement by the Delegation of South Africa, Agenda Item 7: National Legislation relevant to the Peaceful Exploration and Use of Outer Space

Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Fifty-Second Session of the Legal Sub-Committee

Delivered by: Mr A September

Mr Chair:

Thank you for allowing us an opportunity to share with the Legal Subcommittee recent developments in the development of national space law in response to the rapid deployment of new space technologies coupled with an increased participation by non-governmental entities in the space sector. 

The increased commercialisation of space activities demands proper regulatory responses to encourage and not hinder the wide-spread availability of space applications to address the myriad of socio-economic challenges in the developing world.  We are particularly grateful to the deliberations conducted under the auspices of the Legal Subcommittee in refining the requisite elements of a responsive national space law that adheres to the fundamental principles governing space exploration and use.

Mr Chair,

The Working Group on National Legislation Relevant to Peaceful Exploration and Use of Outer Space finalised its multiyear work-plan at the last Legal Subcommittee. We recall that it was not possible to reach consensus at the Legal Subcommittee on the vehicle in which the results of this Working Group should be reflected, and that it was left to COPUOS to make that decision, which referred it to this session of the Legal Subcommittee for adoption. The delegation of South Africa is of the opinion that the Working Group’s revised draft separate General Assembly resolution is acceptable and should be forwarded, as  it encapsulates the work of this Working Group on National Legislation plus it has the potential to contribute to the growing body on international space law.

Kindly allow us to congratulate Prof Marboe for the tenacious and dedicated way  in which she has lead the Working Group on National Legislation over the last year.  The output emanating from that Working Group has greatly assisted us in our endeavour to fashion a domestic law that reflects current elements necessary to shepherd space activities in our country. 

Mr Chair,

Consistent with our stated commitment to conduct national space activity in accordance with best international practices, we have undertaken a number of activities to refine and promulgate domestic legislative and regulatory mechanisms to encourage responsible use of outer space by our national entities and persons.

South Africa is party to four space treaties and the fundamentals of these international instruments must be reflected in our domestic legislation. To that end, we have embarked on a comprehensive review of the current space environment in South Africa with a view to assess the relevance and suitability of our legislative and regulatory instruments in light of increased participation by commercial entities and other contemporary challenges. 

The aim is to scope international best practices for the regulation of space activities, benchmark the current South African space scenario with other space faring countries, and determine whether the provisions of the current Space Affairs Act are adequate to ensure that the objectives of this legislation are in line with recent developments in space use and exploration.   The legal separation between entities involved in service provision and those providing regulatory oversight will be retained but where any unnecessary duplication of functions and responsibilities are identified, this will be eradicated.  We hope the end result will be  new national space legislation that reflects best practices that have emanated from the discussions and interaction in this environment.

We are also continuing our internal efforts to refine our licensing process through the work of our regulatory authority, the South African Council for Space Affairs (“SACSA”).  SACSA is 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,  and 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.<s></s>

Mr Chair,

We are extremely concerned about the  lack of progress in the development of international standards to prevent the further proliferation of space debris and accountability for contributing to such debris. In this regard 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.<s></s>

Mr Chair,

Let me conclude by emphasizing our commitment to the rule of law and the further development of norms of international space law for the benefit of all humanity.

Thank you

© Copyright by SA Embassy 2020