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The United States at the 2022 COPUOS Legal Subcommittee
March 25, 2022

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. (NASA)

The United States at the 2022 COPUOS Legal Subcommittee

From Monday, March 28, to Friday, April 8, 2022, the United States joined delegations from around the globe to discuss legal questions related to the exploration and peaceful use of outer space and to promote international space cooperation at the 61st session of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) Legal Subcommittee (LSC).

At this year’s LSC, the United States joined dozens of other countries in condemning Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.  We called on Russia to immediately withdraw all its military forces from within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and made clear that — in light of Russia’s aggression — an affiliation between the United Nations and Roscosmos for a UNOOSA regional center for space science and technology education in the Russian Federation is not appropriate.

Also at this year’s LSC, we voiced our continued support for the four core UN outer space treaties and urged all countries active in the space sector in any way to become Party to and fully implement them; we updated the Committee on the progress of the Artemis Accords, and welcomed the seven countries that have signed the Accords since the last session of the LSC; we voiced our regret at Russia’s recent destruction of an on-orbit spacecraft, which generated more than 1,500 fragments large enough to be tracked by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network and millions of fragments too small to be tracked but large enough to threaten human spaceflight and robotic missions; and much more.

Emily R. Pierce, Attorney Advisor at the State Department’s Bureau for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, led the U.S. delegation to the 61st LSC, which met virtually and in Vienna, Austria.

A subsidiary of COPUOS, the only standing body of the United Nations concerned exclusively with the peaceful uses of outer space, the LSC meets for two weeks every year to address topics as diverse as space traffic management, orbital debris, and the utilization of space resources.

U.S. statements delivered at the 61st COPUOS Legal Subcommittee:

– Agenda Item 6: Status of the International Treaties Governing the Use of Outer Space
– Agenda Item 15: Potential Legal Models for Activities in Exploration, Exploitation and Utilization of Space Resources
– Agenda Item 7: The Definition and Delimitation of Outer Space and the Character and Utilization of the Geostationary Orbit
– Agenda Item 13: Legal Aspects of Space Traffic Management
– Agenda Item 10: Future Role and Method of Work of the Committee
– Agenda Item 11: General Exchange of Information and Views on Legal Mechanisms Relating to Space Debris Mitigation Measures, Taking Into Account the Work of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee
– Agenda Item 4: General Exchange of Views (U.S. National Statement)
– Agenda Item 8: National Legislation Relevant to the Peaceful Exploration and Use of Outer Space

Other U.S. Content at the 2022 COPUOS Legal Subcommittee:
 INTERVIEW: Introducing the State Department’s Newest Legal Space Expert, Emily Pierce