FEBRUARY 10, 2000
The Chinese delegation attaches great importance to the agenda item III entitled “Prevention of an arms race in outer space” and maintains that the CD re-establish an Ad Hoc committee under this item to commence substantive negotiations. My delegation has on many occasions stated this position and tabled a specific proposal (CD/1576) on March 11, 1999.
Today, upon the instruction from the Chinese government, I submit a working paper entitled “China’s Position on and Suggestions for Ways to Address the Issue of Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space at the Conference on Disarmament”. I have already requested the Secretary General to circulate the paper as an official document of the Conference on Disarmament. Here, I would like to outline the main elements of the working paper. There are four parts in the paper, i.e. views on how to address the issue of PAROS at CD, views on the existing international legal instruments concerning PAROS, China’s basic position on PAROS and tentative ideas on the new international instruments.
I．Views on How to Address PAROS at CD
As the single multilateral disarmament negotiating body, the CD should concentrate on the most pressing, most prominent issues that have the greatest bearing on international peace and security in the 21st century. PAROS is just such an issue and has every reason to be one of the highest priorities on CD’s agenda.
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted at its 54th session, once again with an overwhelming majority, a resolution on the PAROS. The resolution reiterates that the Conference on Disarmament has the primary role in the negotiation of a multilateral agreement or agreements on the prevention of an arms race in outer space and invites CD to establish an Ad Hoc committee as early as possible during the 2000 session. No country voted against the resolution. This fully reflects the common aspiration and strong desire of the whole international community to prevent an arms race in outer space. Likewise, the UNGA adopted at its 54th session, also with an overwhelming majority, a resolution on Preservation of and Compliance with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, an issue that is related to the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
Since PAROS was put on the agenda of the CD in 1982, the CD has, through the establishment of Ad Hoc committees and other means, conducted useful work on issues such as relevant definitions, principles, existing treaties and confidence-building measures. Given the present grave situations, the CD has every reason to re-establish an Ad Hoc committee on PAROS and commence substantive work without any delay.
In view of the above, the Chinese delegation maintains that the CD re-establish, in line with the wording of the proposal contained in CD/1576, an Ad Hoc committee under agenda item III entitled “Prevention of an arms race in outer space”, to negotiate and conclude an international legal instrument banning the testing, deployment and use of any weapons, weapons systems and their components in outer space, with a view to preventing the weaponization of outer space. In discharging its functions, the Ad Hoc committee should take into consideration all the relevant developments, present and future, and the specific proposals tabled by all sides. As preliminary work in the direction of the negotiation and conclusion of an international legal instrument, the Ad Hoc committee may also discuss all other relevant issues, such as the examination of the present military activities and relevant developments and their impact on the efforts in the prevention of an arms race in outer space, the examination of the shortcomings of the current international legal instruments, the consideration of some concepts and definitions related to the prevention of arms race in outer space, and the basic elements of the future international legal instruments, etc.
The Chinese delegation has taken note of the various ideas and suggestions on PAROS at the Conference tabled by various parties. We are of the view that the new Ad Hoc committee should be an open-ended and all-embracing mechanism within which all sides can freely express their own views. The negotiation and conclusion of an international legal instrument or instruments on the prevention of the weaponization of and an arms race in outer sapce should be set as the definite direction and ultimate goal of the work of the committee.
II. Issue of Current International Legal Instruments.
There are indeed several international legal instruments related to outer space issue, such as the 1963 Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water, the 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, the 1972 Treaty between the US and the USSR on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems, etc. However, all these instruments have failed to effectively prevent the weaponization of outer space and an arms race in outer space. Some have provided for prohibitions limited in scope and contained many loopholes and ambiguities. Some have not been fully complied with or are facing the danger of being violated, amended or abolished.
Therefore, the Chinese delegation believes that the international community, while making efforts to strengthen the existing international legal instruments, is also in great need of the negotiation and conclusion of new legal instruments to achieve the goal of non-weaponization of and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. The new international legal instruments to be concluded should contain the following basic elements: the prohibition of testing, deployment and use of any weapon system and their components in outer space and the limitation of the use of satellites for military purposes.
III. China’s Basic Position on PAROS
Early in 1985, China submitted to the first Ad Hoc committee on PAROS a position paper (CD/579) which outlined China’s basic positions in this regard. China has all along maintained that the exploration and use of outer space should only serve to promote the economic, scientific and cultural development of all countries in the world and benefit all mankind. China has always opposed arms race of any kind, including arms race in outer space. This basic position remains unchanged.
What should be particularly pointed out is that the powers with the greatest space capabilities should assume special responsibilities in preventing the weaponization of outer space and an arms race in outer space and ensuring the use of outer space for peaceful purposes. Pending the conclusion of a new multilateral legal instrument on prevention of an arms race in outer space, all countries concerned should undertake not to test, deploy and use any weapons and weapon systems as well as their components in outer space.
IV. Tentative Ideas on New International Legal Instruments
For the moment, the Chinese delegation believes that the new international legal instruments to be concluded on the prevention of the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space may contain such basic elements as purposes, basic obligations, definitions, national implementation measures, international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space, verification measures, appropriate mechanism for the resolution of disputes, transparency measures and other “procedural articles” commonly contained in international legal instruments, such as articles on amendment,signature, ratification, entry into force, etc. Our working paper has outlined the main contents of these articles, so I will not go into the details.
The Chinese delegation wishes to emphasize that these are only preliminary ideas that may help inspire thoughts, promote further discussion and consideration in this regard and facilitate relevant negotiations.The Chinese delegation will actively participate in such discussions and negotiations.
Thank you, Mr. President.