Presentation and position of France [fr]

Challenges

Today, outer space has become essential in everyday applications and for both civilian and military purposes. The growing use of space means that our dependence on space resources will only grow in the future. It also creates recurring safety issues. The benefits of space applications are seriously threatened by the current deterioration in the space environment, which is caused by the risk of accidents and deliberate or even hostile actions. These contribute, among others, to the growing proliferation of space debris,a serious risk that must be dealt with.

It is therefore important to step up security for all aspects of space activities, to defend the principle of the responsible use of space and to focus on establishing confidence and transparency among current and future space faring nations.

France’s position

In accordance with its long-standing position, France is committed to preserving the peace and security of outer space activities. It is particularly committed to the key principles governing space activities, especially those included in the Charter of the United Nations and the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. These include freedom of access to and the peaceful use of space, both of which continue to be current and relevant issues. France is also committed to the long-term security and viability of space activities, by preventing the worsening of exploitation conditions and preserving access for future generations.

France’s repeated assessments of the space environment and related threats and risks, as well as its acknowledgement of the strategic nature of national space capabilities, have led it to adapt its strategy. The French new space defence strategy seeks to reinforce strategic autonomy in this field by focusing on three main actions:

- boosting current military capabilities in the fields of strategic monitoring and operational support;
- building capabilities in space situational awareness (SSA) to better grasp and understand activity in all orbits;
- developing defence capabilities in outer space;

This strategy is strictly defensive, and fully complies with the Charter of the United Nations.

Several initiatives focused on preventing the first placement of weapons in outer space are regularly put forward at the Conference on Disarmament and in the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. France is not opposed to legal approaches per se, provided they are verifiable, but supports proposals that can be applied immediately, given the rapidly deteriorating outer space environment and the urgent need for a response to address the problem.

For France, the international community’s action should be based on several principles:

- Space activities should be developed in accordance with international law in general and the Charter of the United Nations in particular. All elements of this Charter apply to outer space.

- The international community should adopt a cross-cutting approach and take into account the dual nature of space activities. We need to promote the principle of the responsible use of space when conducting civilian and military space programmes.

- Approaches should be effective, pragmatic and monitored and should be able to provide concrete and readily measurable benefits. These benefits should also be sustainable.

- Given these principles, and the rapid and worrying deterioration of the space environment, our priorities need to be promoting confidence and transparency measures, as well as adopting responsible behaviour rules for individuals in space. In particular, there should be a rule against the voluntary production of multiple longlived debris.

publié le 15/06/2020

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