Topic: 2023-Militarization of Outer Space
Country: Palestinian Authority
Delegate Name: Nikhil Talla
In the aftermath of the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union, space became a domain for strategic military activities. The deployment of satellites for commercial purposes such as navigation, radio, and mobile communications has led to the advancement of military technologies in reconnaissance and surveillance. For example, most nations with weapons of mass destruction operate a nuclear launch and detection system made up of a small fleet of satellites that constantly scan the earth for the massive heat signatures of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) being fired to raise alarms and activate defense systems. The weaponization of space, including, for example, the development of anti-satellite weapons (ASATs), could lead to an arms race where multiple nations develop and accumulate technology to gain a military or political advantage. Arms races can escalate quickly in response to a real or perceived threat, even if there is no intent for violence. Although not under any perceived space weapon threats, Palestine encourages the development of regulations that ensure the safety of developing nations without restricting nations from establishing outer space defense measures.
The Palestinian National Authority, although not having signed the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, supports the efforts of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its Subcommittees (COPUOS) and the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to ensure outer space is used for peaceful purposes. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, with over 114 nations signing it, prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space, limits the use of celestial bodies to peaceful purposes, prevents countries from claiming sovereignty over outer space, and forbids base-building, weapon tests, and military maneuvers on celestial bodies. Recently, countries such as China, India, and Russia performed tests of ASATs on their own satellites, creating large amounts of debris. The debris created by ASATs could lead to a chain reaction of collisions known as the Kessler syndrome that will damage all satellites or spacecraft in orbit. The use of ASATs and rendezvous and proximity operations (RPOs) could also damage systems vital to defense such as military Global Positioning Systems (GPS), communication systems, and ballistic missile early warning systems. Although the advancement of outer space weapons threatens the safety of all countries, Palestine recognizes the importance of other space technologies found in satellites like RPOs that could be used to advance the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs’ (UNOOSA) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Palestine suggests that countries work together to increase transparency between nations to prevent escalation of conflict by removing doubt about potential malicious intent, reducing the potential for an outer space weapons arms race. The United States, China, Russia, and India are all nations leading the advancement of the militarization of outer space with revolutionary technology. Palestine encourages these countries to discuss bilateral agreements that would involve limited data sharing and advance notice of maneuvers in space to improve communication and decrease misperceptions over hostile behavior. Palestine also recommends exploring the possibility of facilitating the commercialization of space to establish peace in space. Private companies that are investing heavily in their space assets have an incentive to lobby their government to enact policies that avoid a conflict in space to protect their assets. Efforts to ensure safety regarding the militarization of outer space are supported by Palestine, and Palestine wishes to work with other countries to develop more specific solutions.