Initial Mandates of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and the Conference on Disarmament (CD)
On a state level, space matters are discussed globally in two separate forums: the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which deals with the peaceful uses of outer space, and the Conference on Disarmament (CD), which focuses on the prevention of an arms race in outer space and other matters pertaining to the disarmament of outer space. COPUOS was established in 1959 through Resolution 1348 (XIII), while the CD was given the official mandate to discuss the prevention of an arms race in outer space in 1981 through Resolution S-10/2. This chapter examines the mandates established in these resolutions and the various interpretations of those mandates over time. First, this chapter examines and evaluates the mandate given to COPUOS, coming to the conclusion that the mandate is ambiguous because the term ‘peaceful uses’ is not defined. Thereafter, this chapter discusses the evolution of the disarmament framework, including the CD’s predecessors, and the eventual mandate given to the CD, which appears better defined and less ambiguous. Finally, the chapter considers the mandates given to the two forums and determines the effect that this has had on the discussion of space matters internationally within the United Nations (UN) space-related framework. It concludes that there appears to be a void in the discussion of space matters internationally, specifically with regard to the ‘non-arms military’ use of outer space, because of divergent interpretations of the mandates of the forums by key spacefaring states.