Topic A: The Moon Treaty 1979 – Demilitarizing the Moon and other celestial bodies
Ever since the Space Race, between the Soviet Union and the United States of America in the Cold War, there have been fears in the international community, that the prospect of being able to fly into space could extend the arms race and conflicts fought on earth into space. Therefore the international community, even before the moon landing started regulating activities in space, through international treaties such as the Outer Space Treaty (1967), which was later extended to make sure that space will be a zone of peaceful international cooperation.
One of these treaties, is the Moon Treaty, established by the UN General Assembly in 1979, which prohibited the militarisation of the moon and other celestial bodies. Although the treaty has been widely welcomed, it is seen as a failed treaty, as only 18 member states have ratified it, none on these are the major member states that participated in manned missions to space.
In the 21st century the rapid advancement of technology, the possibility of commercial space flights by 2030 and the rise of extremism and nationalism in parts of the world demilitarising space and this long forgotten treaty come back to the limelight of UNOOSA’s attention.
Topic B: Making outer space activities more sustainable
The Cold War, although intense and domination driven, was a crucial pillar in space exploration and the centuries-old human desire to reach space. Due to the arms race and the rivalry of the U.S. and the USSR, many new technologies had to be created, people had to think outside of the box and “conquer” new places that would give them an advantage over the other which led to the the first mission into space, Sputnik 1 on the 4th of October 1957. A lot of time has passed ever since humans first entered the orbit with their machines and satellites. How is the contemporary orbit different from the one decades ago? The answer is simple, trash… and a lot of it.
Our planets orbit is littered with more than 500,000 pieces of debris, or “space junk,” that are currently tracked . These pieces of old satellites, rockets and others travel at speeds up to ~28,000 km/h, fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft. The problem is so severe that there are multiple reports of satellites, being damaged, which is a significant security risk in space. The more debris that gets trapped in space the more fragile satellites become which can ultimately lead to falling of satellites and/or their parts back on Earth and cause serious damage. Although making the earth’s orbit sustainable and debris free should be high on every member states agenda, there has been, no serious initiative that was successful in addressing the problem, as of yet.
- United States of America*
- ESA – European Space Agency (observer)*
- Russian Federation*
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland*
- People’s Republic of China*
- South Africa
- IISL: International Institute of Space Law (observer)
- Saudi Arabia
For countries marked with (*) previous experience is required