Russia’s initiative on No First Placement of Arms in Outer Space is winning growing support (Ambassador Yakovenko, for Russia Today)

Preventing the deployment of weapons in outer space remains one of the key objectives of the Russian diplomacy. We believe that space should be used solely for the peaceful scientific research purposes in the interest of development and progress in the world. That is why Russia is eager to promote initiatives that prohibit weaponization of space and help develop international cooperation.

Among them is the Russian draft resolution on No First Placement of Arms in Outer Space presented at the UN General Assembly. Co-sponsored by 33 countries, the resolution was given an overwhelming support for the first time at its current session in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), being approved by 126 votes in favour to 4 against (the United States, Israel, Georgia and Ukraine). The voting result has confirmed that the Russian initiative on preventing the weaponisation of space is winning growing support in the international community. The text will now be submitted to General Assembly plenary for adoption.

The draft resolution provides the basis for further action to keep outer space free from any kind of weapons and to ensure that all countries have an equal opportunity for its peaceful use. One of the key provisions is the idea of early talks at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva with a view to drafting and adopting a binding international treaty to prevent the placement of arms in outer space and the threat or use of force against outer space objects. Such a treaty was first proposed by Russia and China back in 2008. An updated Russian-Chinese draft was submitted to the Conference on Disarmament in June this year.

The draft resolution also includes an appeal to all states to adopt a political commitment on no first placement of arms in outer space. So far, 11 countries have made the respective declarations, namely Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Brazil, Cuba, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Sri Lanka and Tajikistan.

Adopting a commitment not to be the first to place weapons in outer space by all nations with major space capabilities would greatly facilitate a legally binding ban on the placement of any kind of weapons in outer space and the threat or use of force against outer space objects. Further efforts to spread this pledge across the globe would be a major contribution to the efforts of all the UN member countries towards equal and indivisible security and stability.