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Call For Rules On Space Debris

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

31 March 2001


The New Zealand and Australian Foreign Ministers have expressed their understanding of concerns raised by their Latin American colleagues in relation to the re-entry of space debris into the earth's atmosphere.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Australia Foreign Minister Alexander Downer are attending the ministerial meeting of the Forum for East Asia – Latin American Cooperation in Santiago, Chile.

The Ministers noted the recent Mir re-entry into the South Pacific had been managed successfully. The Ministers also acknowledged the need for further consideration of the appropriate means of regulating the return of objects from outer space as a supplement to existing rules.

This could involve, for example, developing policy and practices, and if necessary, rules on issues such as prior notification, transparency and consultation with nations in the areas affected, as well as assurances on the nature of the material involved. Arrangements governing liability for any damage sustained would also need to be looked at.

The Ministers noted that such polices and practices would need to be consistent with existing international agreements, including those on hazardous wastes and protection of the ocean and maritime environment.

New Zealand and Australia will encourage further international discussion of these issues in the appropriate forums.


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