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The Politics of Space Security: Decoding the Security Council's Vote on Outer Space Weapons


UN Security Council Meeting on Outer Space Weapons
UN Security Council Meeting on Outer Space Weapons

By: ATN News


United Nations: In a landmark session today, the United Nations Security Council encountered a significant setback as it failed to adopt its first-ever resolution focused on outer space arms control. The proposed resolution aimed to reaffirm the commitment of all member states to abide by the principles laid out in the Outer Space Treaty, including the prohibition of placing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in orbit around the Earth or on celestial bodies.

 

The resolution also sought to underscore the urgency of implementing additional measures, such as political commitments and legally binding instruments, with robust provisions for verification, to prevent the escalation of an arms race in outer space.

 

The draft resolution, introduced jointly by the United States and Japan, received strong support from 62 cross-regional co-sponsors, reflecting widespread recognition of the pressing need to safeguard outer space from militarization.

 

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, speaking on behalf of the co-sponsors, emphasized the unprecedented danger posed by the placement of nuclear weapons in orbit and underscored the resolution's non-controversial nature. However, her remarks were met with staunch opposition from the representative of the Russian Federation, who condemned the resolution as a deceptive maneuver orchestrated by the US and Japan.

US Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield
US Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield

 

Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya  objections centered on the assertion that the resolution failed to address the broader issue of ensuring that outer space remains free from all forms of weaponry. Furthermore, the proposed addition of an operative paragraph by Russia and China aimed at advocating for a comprehensive ban on all types of weapons in outer space was met with resistance.

Russiaan Federation Amb. Vasily Nebenzya
Russiaan Federation Amb. Vasily Nebenzya

 The subsequent vote on the amendment witnessed a deadlock, with seven member states voting in favor and seven against, falling short of the required majority for adoption.


Japan's Amb YAMAZAKI Kazuyuki
Japan's Amb YAMAZAKI Kazuyuki

Japan's Ambassador YAMAZAKI Kazuyuki, expressed disappointment at the divisive nature of the amendment proposed by Russia and China, emphasizing its inconsistency with the principles outlined in the UN Charter. The failure to reach a consensus on the amendment further exacerbated tensions within the Council.

 

Ultimately, the draft resolution itself was rejected, with 13 member states voting in favor, one against (the Russian Federation), and one abstention (China), highlighting the deep divides within the Council on this critical issue.

 

In the aftermath of the vote, representatives of the United States and Japan expressed regret over the failure to adopt the resolution, attributing it to the veto wielded by the Russian Federation. They underscored the resolution's significance in promoting peaceful exploration of outer space and preventing the proliferation of weapons.

 

Among the member states that voted in favor of the resolution were Ecuador, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Algeria, and Guyana, who emphasized the importance of strengthening the legal framework governing outer space activities.

 

Switzerland, which abstained from the contentious amendment but supported the resolution, reiterated its commitment to developing legally binding instruments to prohibit the placement of weapons in outer space.

 

The failure to adopt the resolution reflects the ongoing challenges faced by the international community in addressing the militarization of outer space and underscores the need for continued diplomatic efforts to promote peaceful cooperation in this critical frontier of human exploration.

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