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United Nations Security Council Fails Again to Adopt Resolution on Preventing Arms Race in Outer Space

The Security Council votes on a draft resolution on non-proliferation and outer space introduced by the Russian Federation| UN Photo: Manuel Elías
The Security Council votes on a draft resolution on non-proliferation and outer space introduced by the Russian Federation| UN Photo: Manuel Elías

By: ATN News

United Nations: For the second time since late April, the United Nations Security Council has failed to adopt a resolution aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space. The latest draft, proposed by the Russian Federation, was voted down, mirroring the outcome of a similar vote on April 24 when the original text faced a Russian veto.

The draft resolution, introduced by the Russian Federation, sought to reaffirm states' commitment to refrain from placing any weapons, including those of mass destruction, in outer space. The Russian representative criticized Western nations, accusing them of attempting to cast Russia in a negative light and highlighting their desire to retain the capacity to militarize space. He emphasized the comprehensive nature of the proposed resolution, arguing that its adoption would underscore a collective duty to maintain the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.

In stark contrast, the representative of the United States denounced the Russian proposal as a distraction from Moscow's own militarization efforts, citing the recent launch of a Russian satellite equipped with a nuclear device. He argued that the draft failed to reaffirm essential provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Use of Force in Outer Space and accused Russia of insincerity in its intentions.

The voting concluded with a deadlock: 7 in favor (Algeria, Ecuador, China, Guyana, Mozambique, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone), 7 against (France, Japan, Malta, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, United Kingdom, United States), and 1 abstention (Switzerland). This outcome failed to meet the required majority for adoption.

Post-vote statements revealed deep divisions. The representative of Algeria supported the draft, aligning with his country's stance on the peaceful use of outer space. Guyana echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the need to protect this "shared global commons." Sierra Leone also supported the resolution, viewing it as a crucial step toward preventing an arms race in space.

Opponents of the resolution cited the lack of consensus and the ambiguous nature of the text. Japan highlighted the inconsistency in Russia’s approach, noting Moscow’s earlier stance that all UN members should be involved in space security discussions. Malta and the Republic of Korea criticized the procedural inconsistency of Russia first vetoing a resolution and then proposing a similar one. They, along with Slovenia, pointed out the difficulty in defining what constitutes a weapon in space, given the dual-use nature of many space technologies.

France and the United Kingdom questioned the motives behind Russia's proposal. The French representative found it "astonishing" that Russia vetoed a resolution only to use it as a basis for its draft. The UK's representative underscored the irony of a country with a history of arms control violations advocating for such a resolution.

China’s representative accused a "certain country" of turning outer space into a war-fighting domain, highlighting the need for long-term efforts to build consensus on space security issues. Switzerland, which abstained, expressed regret over the lack of flexibility and trust in the discussions.

In a post-vote statement, the Russian representative expressed satisfaction with the voting results, framing it as a division between those favoring peaceful use of space and those leaning towards its militarization. He criticized Western countries for what he described as cynical and hypocritical justifications for their actions.

The failure to adopt the resolution underscores ongoing geopolitical tensions and the complex dynamics surrounding the militarization of space. As nations continue to grapple with these issues, achieving a universally accepted framework for the peaceful use of outer space remains elusive.

(450 words)


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