(CN) – The European Union has begun talks on an international code of conduct for outer space activities, getting the ball rolling before United Nations member states give their input in New York this fall.
“Space is a resource for all countries in the world, and those who do not yet have space activities will have them in the future,” the EU Council said in a statement from Vienna. “Therefore the EU considers necessary to ensure greater security in outer space and believes a pragmatic and incremental process can assist in achieving this goal.”
Europe’s initiative for the space treaty began in 2008 “as a means to achieve enhanced safety and security in outer space through the development and implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures,” the lawmakers said.
For now, the EU has initiated what it calls “the multilateral diplomatic process to discuss and negotiate” the proposed code, which the EU Council revised and accepted in 2010. The code has been used to lay down the diplomatic groundwork for treaty talks.
After U.N. member states conduct formal negotiations at “a multilateral experts meeting” in October 2012 in New York, an agreement could be signed and implemented by 2013.
“The proposed code would be applicable to all outer space activities conducted by states and non-governmental entities, and would lay down the basic rules to be observed by space-faring nations in both civil and defense space activities,” the council said, noting that the initiative already has the support of the U.S., Japan and India.
The proposed treaty promotes the “freedom of access to space for peaceful purposes, preservation of the security and integrity of space objects in orbit [and] due consideration for the legitimate defense interests of states,” while enhancing the security, safety and sustainability of all outer space activities, according to the EU Council.
Space-faring nations will also be required “to promote the peaceful exploration and use of outer space and to take all appropriate measures to prevent outer space from becoming an area of conflict” through scientific, commercial and military activities in the final frontier. Subscribing nations would continue the enforcement of more than a dozen other space treaties dating back to 1963.
The EU Council also announced that the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research officially launched its project “Facilitating the Process for the Development of an international Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.” The program runs in tandem with the EU’s diplomatic process and aims to “facilitate information dissemination and exchange of views on the concept of this code of conduct,” the council said.