Atty. Noelle Riza D. Castillo, Director of the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) Space Policy and International Cooperation Bureau, delivered a statement to present the jointly submitted Working Paper of the Philippine delegation with Germany on 12 September 2022 to the 2nd session of the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Reducing Space Threats Through Norms, Rules, and Principles of Responsible State Behavior.
The working paper aims to contribute substantially to creating a consensual understanding of what are security risks and security threats, and what specific activities and behaviors the two states consider irresponsible. These security risks and threats are concerning as these pose challenges to the full utilization of outer space for sustainable development, such as for climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction—which are both very relevant to the Philippine context—and for the benefit of scientific research and development.
Read the full statement below:
United Nations General Assembly
Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats Through Norms,
Rules, and Principles of Responsible behavior
12 September 2022
Agenda Item 6(b): To Consider Current and Future Space Threats by States to Space Systems, and Actions, Activities and Omissions That Could Be Considered Irresponsible
Delivered by Ms. Noelle Riza Castillo,
Director of International Cooperation and Space Policy, Philippine Space Agency
Since this is the first time for my delegation to take the floor, we wish to join others in expressing our profound condolences to the distinguished delegation of the United Kingdom on the passing of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Please allow us also to thank you, Mister Chair, and the secretariat for the excellent arrangements for this week’s session of this Open-Ended Working Group. We likewise thank all the panelists for lending their expertise this morning.
The Philippines aligns itself with the statement delivered [to be delivered] by His Excellency the Ambassador of Cambodia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.
The mandate of this session is to consider current and future threats by states to space systems and actions, activities, and omissions that could be considered irresponsible. This is a crucial component of our work to elaborate norms of responsible behavior in outer space with the view to preserving outer space security.
My delegation takes the floor with the delegation of Germany in order to present our joint analysis of security risks, threats, and irresponsible behavior in outer space. We have put our views on record through Working Paper No. 17, which has been circulated among delegations and is now available on the UNODA website.
Our working paper begins with a characterization of security risks and threats. While these two concepts overlap, they are distinct: Security risks are conditions and actions that may lead to an increased likelihood of misunderstandings and inadvertent escalation. Security threats, on the other hand, are the acute harmful effects of deliberate actions.
I will provide an overview of our understanding of security risks and security threats, while my German colleague will classify the broad spectrum of counter-space activities and characterize what we view as irresponsible behaviors.
Let me turn to examples for security risks:
First, we see risk in insufficient understanding of States about the purpose and use of certain space assets and technologies by another State. This risk come in three aspects. The dual-use nature of most space objects could cause misperceptions and misunderstandings. Further, while the launch, position and movement of a space asset can be observed remotely by other States, certain components of a satellite – which determine its possible applications and mission – are much harder or even impossible to observe remotely. Third, insufficient registration practice and deviations from typical patterns of behavior are likely to create misunderstanding.
Second, we see risk in insufficient understanding of mutual threat perceptions. We stress that the lack of understanding of the kind of behaviors that another State deems threatening or escalatory could lead to an increased risk of miscalculation.
Third, lack of channels of communication making it difficult to clarify and deconflict operations in space.
Fourth, we see risk in the lack of transparency on national space programmes.
Finally, we see risk in the absence of clear and internationally understood standards and norms of behavior. Such standards make it possible to distinguish between innocuous patterns of behavior and potentially worrying deviations from the norm.
On the other hand, we identify the following, mostly intentional behavior, as security threats:
First, threats to the safe operation of space assets and to the long-term sustainability of the outer space, such as any action that could lead to the destruction of or irreversible damage to a satellite or loss of the ability of an operator to control a satellite. This includes destructive testing of direct ascent anti-satellite missiles.
Second, threats to the provision of critical space-based services to the public such as positioning, navigation and timing or satellite communication. Impairment or disruption of these services could surpass a critical threshold and therefore lead to loss of life or damage to property.
Finally, threats to the use of space systems and services for national security:
Impairment or disruption of command-and-control systems and space systems used for early warning, positioning, navigation and timing or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, may lead to unwanted escalation.
These risks and threats pose challenges to the full utilization of outer space by all states, particularly developing countries, in pursuing their Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, they could impair the following:
First, conduct of scientific research and development for instance in areas of human research, space medicine, life sciences, biotechnology, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.
Second, the use of space systems and services for climate change adaptation and mitigation as many key climate variables can only be measured from space.
Thank you, Mister Chair, and I now wish to give the floor to my distinguished colleague from the delegation of Germany.
Read the working paper: OEWG Joint PH Germany Working Paper
Watch a recording of the 2nd session here.