The approval of set of space sustainability guidelines by a United Nations committee has been widely endorsed by the global space community, even while questions remain on how those guidelines can be turned into more binding rules.
The U.N.’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) formally approved 21 guidelines for long-term sustainability of space at the end of its latest session in Vienna June 21, referring them to the U.N. General Assembly for endorsement later this year. The guidelines cover a range of recommended behaviors and best practices in space, including safety of space operations and international cooperation.
The guidelines were developed by a working group that started in 2010 and wrapped up its efforts last year. COPUOS didn’t approve them last year, sources familiar with the process said, because Russia sought to add seven additional guidelines. COPUOS acts by consensus among its 92 member states, so extensive discussions took place to convince Russia to accept the 21 guidelines and defer debate on additional ones to a new working group.