Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space
In 1981, debate over the weaponization of outer space led the CD to begin talks regarding the potential for a PAROS treaty. The CD established an ad hoc committee on PAROS in 1985. However, Western opposition, particularly from the United States, thwarted treaty negotiations and the committee was dissolved in 1994. The committee has yet to reconvene despite an annual, near-unanimous vote by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the CD approving the PAROS resolution. The United States is the only country to vote against the resolution, with Israel abstaining. The United States argues that PAROS is unnecessary because there are no weapons—and thus no arms race—in outer space at this time.
Since 2005, the UNGA has adopted further measures to ensure the prevention an arms race in outer space, approving an annual resolution on “Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities.” China and Russia have produced several working papers on PAROS, which offer suggestions for different confidence building measures together with suggested verification measures. Some of these suggestions include: exchanges of information, demonstrations, notifications, consultations, and thematic workshops. In 2008, China and Russia submitted a draft treaty to the CD entitled “Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects” (PPWT). The PPWT reiterates the importance of a weapon-free outer space, defines relevant terms such as “weapons in outer space,” and proposes the creation of an additional protocol to establish “measures of verification of compliance with the Treaty.”References and Links
Developing a New Outer Space Treaty. (n.d.). Reaching Critical Will. Retrieved June, from http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/legal/paros/ostreaty.html#responses
Estabrooks, S. (2006). Update on Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space. The Ploughshares Monitor, 27(3). Retrieved from http://www.ploughshares.ca/libraries/monitor/mons06c.pdf
Gopalaswamy, B. (2010, April 5). The Perils of ASATs. Space News. Retrieved from http://www.spacenews.com/commentaries/100405-perils-asats.html
Preventing the placement of weapons in outer space A backgrounder on the draft treaty by Russia and China. (n.d.). Reaching Critical Will. Retrieved from http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/legal/paros/wgroup/PAROS-PPWT-factsheet.pdf