United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
Office for Outer Space Affairs
United Nations Office at Vienna,
location of UNOOSA since 1993
|Type||Office of the Secretariat|
|Head||Mazlan Othman, Ph.D., Director of the Office for Outer Space Affairs and Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna|
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs was initially created as a small expert unit within the Secretariat to assist the ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space established by the General Assembly in its resolution 1348 (XIII) of 13 December 1958. It became a unit within the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs in 1962, when the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space met for the first time, and was transformed into the Outer Space Affairs Division of that Department in 1968. In 1992, the Division was transformed into the Office for Outer Space Affairs within the Department for Political Affairs. In 1993, the Office was relocated to the United Nations Office at Vienna.
The Office implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space; performs functions of the Secretariat of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its Scientific and Technical and Legal Subcommittees; coordinates the inter-agency cooperation within the United Nations on the use of space technology; implements the United Nations Programme on Space Applications; maintains coordination and cooperation with space agencies and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations involved in space-related activities. The Office maintains, on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General, the Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space. From 2007, the Office is also responsible for the implementation of UN-SPIDER Programme.
The office has also been helping poor nations suffering from climate change related problems by helping them access satellite images for free.1
When Mazlan Othman was appointed as director in 2010, Mazlan spoke of the chances of contact with extraterrestrial life. It was widely reported in the media that Mazlan's post had been turned into an ambassador for aliens. The UN denied that there was any change in the office's mandate (i.e. space debris, satellites, military uses) however the head of the UK Space Agency said that "Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a 'take me to your leader' person."23456 Some proposed protocols dealing with first contact to reference a role of the UN.7 UNOOSA has its own protocol for decontaminating equipment that may be carrying alien microbes and also a draft greetings to intelligent extraterrestrial life forms.2
The Office is composed of the Committee Services and Research Section (CSRS) and the Space Applications Section (SAS).
As in the whole United Nations system, people from around the world work in the Office. Citizens of more than 50 countries have served as staff members, consultants and interns. In line with the relevant United Nations policies, principles regarding equal geographical distribution and gender balance apply to the selection of staff. As of June 2012|6, specialists from the following countries were staff members of the Office: Austria, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Philippines, Russian Federation, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Staff members have a status of international civil servants.
Staff members of the Office have a wide range of educational backgrounds, including space science (including interdisciplinary fields), physics, engineering, computer science, political science, international affairs, law (including public international law and space law), and other.
- United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
- United Nations Fourth Committee
- United Nations Secretariat
- United Nations Office at Vienna
- UN General Assembly Resolution 1962
- Space Law
- List of space agencies
- United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs Official Website
- United Nations Coordination of Outer Space Activities
- International Space Law
- United Nations Treaties and Principles on Space Law
- Interview with Mazlan Othman, Director of the Office for Outer Space Affairs