U.S. Should Support but Not Yet Sign EU Code of Conduct Say Former Bush Administration Officials

February 4, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Space Law Current Events | Leave a comment

by Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz with the blog faculty
Source: Spacepolicyonline.com

Three former Bush Administration officials, one of whom stayed on in the Obama Administration to help craft the current National Space Policy (NSP), agreed today that the United States should indicate support for the European Union (EU) Draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities, but not officially sign on to it yet. They spoke at a meeting sponsored by the Marshall Institute on Capitol Hill.

Recent stories in the Washington Times, including one this morning, report that the United States is about to sign up to the draft document, which was adopted by the Council of the European Union on September 27, 2010.

Paula DeSutter, former Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, Scott Pace, former NASA Associate Administrator for Policy Analysis and Evaluation, and Peter Marquez, former Director of Space Policy at the White House National Security Council under both President George W. Bush and President Obama, support the EU draft as an alternative to a draft treaty China and Russia are promoting through the United Nations Conference on Disarmament (CD).

The EU code of conduct is a set of voluntary guidelines with no enforcement or verification mechanisms. Instead it spells out what constitutes good behavior that space-faring nations should follow. One question was why the United States or any other country should bother signing a document that cannot be enforced. The answer from the speakers involved aphorisms such as “idle minds are the devil’s playground” or “nature abhors a vacuum” to indicate the document’s ability to divert other countries from promoting less welcome approaches. The prime example cited is the Chinese-Russian Draft Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT). DeSutter went so far as to say that the EU code would “undermine” the PPWT and possibly lead to the end of the CD, both positive developments in her view. More…

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