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23 July 2024

UAE hands over COPUOS chairmanship to Arab Republic of Egypt

Published
By WAM

A delegation from the UAE, head by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of Education and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the UAE Space Agency, participated in the 67th session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) in Vienna, Austria, taking place from 19th to 28th June 2024.

This session included the ceremonial handover of the COPUOS chairmanship from Omran Sharaf, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Advanced Science and Technology, to Dr. Sherif Sedky, CEO of the Egyptian Space Agency, for the upcoming session.

Dr. Ahmad Al Falasi expressed his gratitude to Omran Sharaf for his contributions during his leadership of COPUOS over the past two years, highlighting the important achievements made during his tenure and offering best wishes to the Arab Republic of Egypt in its leadership role of the committee.

Dr. Al Falasi added, “We are strong believers in the importance of international cooperation and collaboration when it comes to the outer space to facilitate knowledge exchange, build capabilities and create tangible and innovative solutions to the world’s current and future challenges. Over the past two years, the UAE has succeeded in unifying global efforts to establish policies and legislations and enhance the sustainable and peaceful use of space technology. We are committed to continuing to work with our partners from across the globe to uncover new frontiers in the sector to benefit humanity.”

During the session, the UAE delegation highlighted the country’s achievements over the past two years in the national space sector, and its organised and comprehensive approach to developing space policies, regulations for space activities, the National Space Strategy 2030, and the Space Science and Technology Policy.

It also shed light on the UAE’s upcoming space missions, including: the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt (EMA), the UAE’s participation in establishing the first lunar station in human history, and Rashid Rover 2.

The delegation also emphasised the UAE’s commitment to bolstering international cooperation in science and technology, its sustainable space exploration efforts, and called on member states to participate in the upcoming edition of the Abu Dhabi Space Debate (ADSD) in December 2024 to promote global dialogue and cooperation in space.

For his part, Omran Sharaf said, “It has been a remarkable two years since the UAE chaired COPUOS. Our efforts in streamlining the agendas of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (STSSC) and Legal Subcommittee (LSC) have resulted in an increase in the performance and efficiency of both. The introduction of improved organizational arrangements and working methods have also contributed greatly to this.”

"The UAE's positive and constructive leadership of COPUOS underscores its international efforts to enhance security and stability in space exploration and the development of space technologies, ultimately contributing to improving life on Earth," he added. “ We eagerly anticipate continued collaboration with our strategic partners and fellow Committee members to achieve more successes in the future.”

Salem Butti Al Qubaisi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency, participated in a panel discussion at the UN Conference on Sustainable Lunar Activities 2024, where he offered valuable insights into the fundamental principles of the Artemis Accords and the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). The session discussed conducting space activities for peaceful purposes according to international law, avoiding conflicts in outer space, and transparency in sharing scientific data and mission information to facilitate open communication among all participants.

During the session, Al Qubaisi called for the formation of joint committees comprising representatives from the countries under the two agreements to unify standards, protocols, and best practices, and host global space conferences, forums, and workshops to bridge gaps, resolve conflict, and foster a unified approach to space governance to facilitate global collaboration efforts and joint missions in addition to endorsing sustainable practices in space exploration.

Al Qubaisi also emphasised the UAE's involvement in developing a module for NASA's Lunar Gateway Station in collaboration with the USA, Japan, Canada, and the European Union. He also highlighted the milestone achievement of sending the first Emirati astronaut into lunar orbit.

On the sidelines of the session, the UAE Space agency, endorsed by the Abu Dhabi Space Debate, hosted an event titled “Collaborative Frontiers: United Nations in Space Endeavors”. The UAE Space Agency team outlined the objectives and main themes of the Abu Dhabi Space Debate (ADSD): space sustainability, space security, and space accessibility.

The UAE's chairmanship of COPUOS from 2022 to 2023, representing the largest committee in the UN with 100 member states, signifies the global community's confidence in the UAE's role in promoting scientific and technological advancement. It highlights the UAE's capacity to lead the world towards enhanced cooperation in addressing the major challenges facing the space sector globally.

During its chairmanship, the UAE made remarkable progress and significant achievements in several areas, despite ongoing geopolitical challenges. The UAE merged multiple agendas to enhance efficiency and avoid duplication. These included The United Nations Programme on Space Applications, the Space technology for sustainable socio-economic development, and remote sensing of the Earth by satellite, including applications for developing countries and monitoring the Earth’s environment.

Furthermore, the UAE contributed to integrating the items related to the application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space, national legislation relevant to the peaceful use of space, and capacity building in space law into a single item, which helped improve work efficiency.

It also promoted fair and peaceful access to space for all countries, encouraging compliance with international legal frameworks and UN treaties governing the safety and sustainability of outer space among member states, and supporting the promotion of knowledge transfer programmes between countries.