Peace and Security

Second draft resolution on weapons-free outer space fails in Security Council

For the second time in less than a month, the UN Security Council failed to adopt a Russian-sponsored draft resolution aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space. This follows Russia’s veto of a text co-led by the US and Japan in April.

The Russian-led draft resolution failed, as it did not secure sufficient votes in favour among the 15 council members.

Seven nations supported it (Algeria, Ecuador, China, Guyana, Mozambique, Russia, and Sierra Leone), while seven voted against (France, Japan, Malta, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the United States). Switzerland abstained.

For a resolution to be adopted, it needs to secure at least nine votes in favour, and no negative vote (or veto) by any of the Council’s five Permanent Members (China, France, Russia, UK and US).

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Comprehensive draft: Russia

Introducing the text, Russian Ambassador and Permanent Representative Vasily Nebenzya said that the 24 April vote demonstrated the West’s single motivation, “to attempt to portray the Russian Federation in an unfavourable light” and “assign to us a certain plan of action which we do not have”.

In the current text, Moscow provided those countries another opportunity, “not in word, but in deed” to “demonstrate the peaceful nature of their intentions”, he said.

He said the draft was “comprehensive” in nature and that it reflects the “interests and aspirations of an overwhelming majority” of UN members.

“Today’s vote is a unique moment of truth for our Western colleagues,” he emphasized, stating that a failure to support the text will demonstrate that such countries wish to retain their ability to militarize outer space.

A distraction: US

Speaking before the vote, US Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative Robert Wood, however, stressed that Moscow was seeking to distract global attention from its development of a new satellite carrying a nuclear device.

The hastily drafted text did not reaffirm the basic provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Use of Force in Outer Space and from Space against the Earth and, for that reason, the US will not support this “disingenuous” resolution, he said.

He also reported that, on 16 May, Russia launched a satellite into low-Earth orbit, which the “United States assesses is likely a counterspace weapon presumably capable of attacking other satellites in low Earth orbit.”

He added that Russia deployed the satellite into the same orbit as one belonging to the US.


Click here for the report on this meeting by UN Meetings Coverage.


One Comment

  1. The failure of the Russian-led draft resolution once again showcases the ongoing tensions in the Security Council regarding the prevention of an arms race in outer space. It seems that the divide among the council members continues to hinder progress in this critical area of global security.

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