Multilateral Negotiations on Space Issues
Beyond its participation in negotiations within the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA) for developing and implementing the European Space Policy (ESP), the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry participates in the handling of space-related cases examined in United Nations bodies. In addition, the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry participates in international satellite organizations (IGO/Eutelsat, IMSO/Inmarsat, ITSO/Intelsat). Lastly, the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry participates in drafting France’s position at meetings of the COSPAS-SARSAT (International Satellite System for Search and Rescue) organization.
1 - United Nations Organizations and Space Security Within the Space Committee:
The Foreign and European Affairs Ministry contributes to the coherence of French and European positions in multilateral fora, particularly in terms of the compatibility of programmatic aspects of the missions carried out under the European framework (European Union, European Space Agency) with international space law.
At the 52nd session of the Space Committee (June 3rd-12th, 2009), at the initiative of France, a new item was included in the agenda of its science and technology subcommittee in February 2010 regarding “long-term sustainability of space activities.” This point, discussed for the first time in the scientific and technical sub-committee in February 2010, will cover a broad spectrum of subjects (space debris, traffic management in space, effect of weather on space operations, etc.) affecting space operations conducted by states or international organizations and satellite operators’ activities.
The Conference on Disarmament
In addition, in response to resolution 61/75 of the UN General Assembly (2007), the European Union has prepared a code of conduct for activities in outer space that has been released under the French Presidency of the European Union (Council meeting on December 8th, 2008).
The Foreign and European Affairs Ministry is associated with French thinking on these issues in the context of confidence-building measures and transparency in space, which may affect space activities, both civilian and joint, or conducted for defense and security purposes.
2 - International Satellite OrganizationsThe Foreign and European Affairs Ministries defines, in cooperation with the Economy, Industry, and Employment Ministry, the French positions for international satellite organization meetings (IGO/Eutelsat, ITSO/Intelsat, and IMSO/Inmarsat).
The European Satellite Telecommunications Organization “Eutelsat:”
The Foreign and European Affairs Ministry sits in the Assembly of Parties to Eutelsat IGO and the Advisory Committee that reviews all matters that may affect the Eutelsat SA’s operations and its ability to meet the “Basic Principles.” As such, the impact of the French law on space operations dated June 3rd, 2008 on the operation of Eutelsat SA was examined.
The activities conducted by Eutelsat IGO and the company it supervises have been affected since mid-2009 by new phenomena. The satellite television broadcasting has been subject to interference. Moreover, Eutelsat SA, a French corporation, is required to apply the provisions of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive for emissions transmitted by satellite and their reception in any European Union country.
The Foreign and European Affairs Ministry is central in handling these cases with rather technical origins, but whose political dimension is increasing.
The International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO):
Following privatization in 2001, France, supported by many ITSO Member States, focused on compliance by notifying authorities (U.S. and UK) of “Basic Principles” with regards to orbital position management, resources, and frequency assignments that constitute the common heritage of the Parties (149 countries). The amendment to Article XII of the ITSO’s rules, adopted at the 31st Meeting of the Parties (March 20th-23rd, 2007), specifies the modalities for compliance by Intelsat Ltd. with its public service obligations, including maintaining global connectivity for dependent countries.
The International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO) is responsible for compliance by Inmarsat Ltd (4 satellites), following its restructuring, of maintaining its service obligations, namely providing mobile satellite communications under the framework of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System and plays a coordinating role in the LRIT system (identification and tracking of ships at long range, established by the International Maritime Organization).
3 - COSPAS-SARSATFrance is one of the four Member States, with the United States, Canada, the USSR later Russia, having signed the COSPAS-SARSAT Agreement - International Satellite System for Search and Rescue on July 1st, 1988 which includes 41 states and organizations. The system currently consists of five low-orbit satellites and five geostationary satellites. Pursuant to its obligations, France continuously provides two instruments for the SARSAT Space Segment. The system has about 1 million beacons (406 MHz), including more than 23,000 units registered in France and has helped to rescue nearly 25,000 people since its inception.
The Foreign and European Affairs Ministry participates in the COSPAS-SARSAT National Steering Committee, the coordinating body for the French program. It contributes on matters relating to cooperation between international organizations (EUMETSAT, ICAO, IMO, ITU) and the future implementation of search and rescue (SAR) instruments on the satellites in the Galileo constellation.
Online publication: December 7, 2010