Space is increasingly critical to modern life on Earth. However, there is growing concern that, as space becomes more economically and strategically important, tensions between different space actors could lead to conflict. Such a conflict could have catastrophic consequences for humankind. To address this, States established an open-ended working group, convened as a result of the UNGA resolution 76/231, on “Reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours”. This Group is mandated to make recommendations on possible norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours relating to threats by States to space systems, including, as appropriate, how they would contribute to the negotiation of legally binding instruments, including on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
With three of the four substantive sessions having already taken place, it is up to States now to draft a report of recommendations to submit to the General Assembly during its 78th session.
This workshop, co-organised by UNIDIR, the United Kingdom and the Secure World Foundation, was designed to raise awareness about the matters addressed in the OEWG among States of the Africa region and foster a better understanding of regional perspectives on space security. The event brought together a diverse range of experts and provided an informal discussion around current challenges to space security and stability, as well as the role that norms, rules, and principles can play in keeping space a peaceful domain. To encourage frank exchanges of ideas, this was a closed event for representatives of African States.
Wednesday, March 15, 2023 to Thursday, March 16, 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya
Africa & Space Security
10:00 - 10:30 Opening Remarks
10:30 - 12:00 The importance of outer space for the Africa region
Outer space is critical for humankind. All countries, irrespective of whether they are spacefaring or not, rely on space services on a daily basis. As such, ensuring peace and security in outer space is of the outmost importance. This panel explored the value of space infrastructure and services across the African continent and the corresponding value of space security in the region.
12:00 - 12:45 Lunch
12:45 - 14:15 Threats to space security: the African perspective
This session discussed and identified some of the critical challenges faced from an African perspective. It shed light on what States of Africa consider priority threats to be addressed by multilateral processes and why they must be tackled.
14:15 - 14:30 Comfort Break
14:30 - 16:00 The role of African stakeholders in achieving space security
Outer space is very different today than it was when space exploration first started. Space is more diverse and has more stakeholders than ever before. Over an 80% or actors in space are non-governmental entities, and Africa, with its booming space industry, is a big contributor to this change. These new stakeholders have a key role to play in ensuring space security by providing States with valuable insight that could aid in the optimization of policymaking. This panel explored the role of African non-governmental entities in achieving such goals.
Multilateral initiatives for space security: how can Africa contribute?
10:15 - 11:45 Past and present initiatives for space security: how do they relate to the work of the OEWG?
This panel looked at the initiatives that States have carried out in the past to address space security concerns in order to assess what elements of those proposals could inform current initiatives designed to enhance space security.
11:45 - 12:30 Lunch
12:30 - 14:00 The OEWG on reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour: what has happened so far and what is to come
With three sessions of the OEWG over and only one more to go, this panel looked at the work done by the OEWG so far, and what could be done in the final session in order to ensure that the process effectively contributes to space security.
14:00 - 14:15 Comfort Break
14:15 - 15:45 Round table: African perspectives for a peaceful and secure outer space domain
This session brought all participants together to reflect on the topics raised during each of the panels, and to explore the role of States in the African region in building a robust space security regime that attends the interests for all States in the OEWG, and in encouraging common understanding among stakeholders to set the foundations upon which to build effective and long lasting frameworks —non-legally binding and legally binding alike— for space security.
15:45 - 16:00 Closing Remarks
This event was held in person, with the possibility of virtual participation, over two days, on 15 and 16 March 2023.
The organizers encouraged participation from regional representatives and experts specialized or interested in issues pertaining to space security, particularly directors or division heads in charge of space security matters. UNIDIR is to publish and promote a short factual report summarizing the highlights of the event.
For more information, please contact Almudena Azcárate.