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believe that knowledge of the Earth and its environment gained from outer space should be broadly shared, we recognize that this must be accompanied by efforts to insure that all countries will fully understand the significance of this new knowledge.
The United States stands ready to engage in a cooperative search for agreed international ground rules
for these activities.
See Dept. of State Bulletin, Vol. LXXIII, No. 1889, Sept. 8, 1975, p. 358.
Direct Broadcasting by Satellite
On October 13, 1975, Ambassador W. Tapley Bennett, Jr., Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations, made a statement in Committee I (Political and Security) of the U.N. General Assembly on direct broadcasting by satellite. He noted that the question of prior consent to broadcasting remained unresolved, and he restated the U.S. view that adoption of a prior-consent regime is undesirable in principle and probably infeasible in practice. With a view to reconciling differences among states on the issue, he presented a proposed new approach based on notification and consultation. The following is an excerpt from Ambassador Bennett's statement:
Based on our review of the points and interests raised in the debates on direct broadcasting during the last year, we would like to propose a new approach which we believe might serve as an effective basis for reconciling many of our divergent interests.
In his August statement on international law before the American Bar Association meeting in Montreal, Secretary of State Kissinger suggested that any system for direct television broadcasting by satellite should be accompanied by full consultations among the countries concerned. I wish to elaborate on the meaning of this suggestion. In particular, we are proposing that before direct television broadcasting is undertaken, states within the reception area should be notified of the intention to broadcast. Those who broadcast should be prepared, on a reciprocal basis, to assume an obligation to give formal notification to states within the likely broadcast area. In addition, those who broadcast should agree to consult fully with the governments of the states in the intended reception area if the latter so request, with the intention of making good-faith efforts to reconcile problems that may be raised.
We believe that this approach would offer protection for any state which has legitimate concerns about direct television broadcasting into its territory, without establishing an international scheme based on prior consent. We do not envisage establishment through these procedures of a right of any state to prohibit others from undertaking broadcasting. We do envisage that such notification and consultation requirements would go substantively beyond the technical consultations now provided for within the ITU (International Telecommunication Union).
It is our belief that the actual process of consultations, which would cause the parties to deal expressly with problems which may arise, would go very far to reconcile differences. The very process of bona fide consultations would give the broadcaster considerable incentive to work out mutually satisfactory solutions and would guarantee those in the reception area a full opportunity to resolve problems they may foresee. Broadcasters would clearly not wish to alienate prospective audiences and hence would desire to reconcile differences. The natural dynamic of the dialogue would work in favor of reconciliation.
Dept. of State Bulletin, Vol. LXXIII, No. 1898, Nov. 10, 1975, pp. 675 676.
On February 19, 1975, Ronald F. Stowe, U.S. Representative to the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, made a statement to that subcommittee on the legal implications of remote sensing of the environment of the Earth from outer space. Mr. Stowe reiterated the U.S. view that remote sensing activities are clearly within the scope of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (TIAS 6347; 18 UST 2410; entered into force for the United States October 10, 1967). He also stressed the natural environmental aspects of remote sensing and the importance of an open and widely utilized system of data dissemination, pointing out that such a system is sanctioned and encouraged by presently applicable law. In this connection he criticized two draft texts previously introduced, one by Brazil and Argentina and the other by France and the Soviet Union, which proposed a restrictive data dissemination system. The following is an excerpt from Mr. Stowe's statement:
A preliminary question which can and should be resolved with relative ease is, in short, what are we talking about when we use the term remote sensing in these discussions? The United States, having launched the remote sensing experiments from which practical experience and data are currently available to the international community, initially spoke of remote sensing in terms of Earth resourses technology. However, both the sensing capabilities of the experiments undertaken and the experience we have gained in the last two years have convinced us that reference only to natural resources is inadequate.
A more appropriate and meaningful definition of remote sensing would also include environmental factors, and hence we should speak of remote sensing of the natural environment of the Earth. This term seems more useful for several reasons. First, the experiments which we have undertaken through what were called ÉRTS-1 and ERTS-B, now renamed Landsat 1 and 2, reveal that equally as important as potential resource identification from outer space are the possibilities for land use analysis, mapping, water quality studies, disaster relief, air and water pollution detection and analysis, protection and preservation of the environment, and many others. To address only one of these potential uses is misleading. All states, including especially developing countries, have broad and sometimes urgent interests in all of these uses.
To refer only to data about resources is also technically unrealistic because the same data base which gives information about resources gives information about all of these other uses I have mentioned and more. To inhibit access to data about one potential use is to inhibit access to data about all other such uses. The data interpretation which takes place here on the ground after the data are received from the satellite determines the types of information which will be elicited. There are no data from these satellites which are peculiar to or which can be restricted to Earth resources.
The concerns which some states feel about their natural resources are evident and should be addressed in our discussions. However, if we are to attempt to analyze the legal aspects of such remote sensing, our focus and our attention must be broader than just one particular element of that sensing. It is our belief that reference to the concept of remote sensing of the natural environment of the Earth may be a helpful step in that direction.
Question of International Law
Agreement on definitions, however important, would still leave a variety of fundamental and difficult substantive questions which one or more members have posed to this Subcommittee. Among those questions, even if not expressly asked, is what is the present state of international law relating to remote sensing of the natural environment? I address this issue not because in our view that law is uncertain or unsettled, but rather because during the last year certain questions have been raised to what we believe are the well-established provisions of international law in this area. We do not believe that these challenges are well-founded or that the change in law which they implicitly propose would be desirable.
I refer in particular to the assertion that Earth-oriented sensing activities from outer space are not sanctioned by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which provides in part that "Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all states without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law. ..
As my delegation pointed out at the last session of the Legal Subcommittee, in our view such remote sensing activities are clearly within the scope of that Treaty.
The negotiating history of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty indicates that primary interest was evinced in the possibilities of using space technology to improve certain capabilities here on Earth. Certainly, one cannot then reasonably infer that Earthoriented activities were not covered. Practice too confounds such an assertion, for one need not look far to realize that before, during and after the negotiation of the 1967 Treaty, which we all recognize as the basic authority in this area, Earth-oriented space activities were plentiful and well known.
Benefits of Dissemination of Data
It has been suggested that remote sensing of the natural environment is distinguishable from earlier activities because it allegedly affects the Earth in a way that earlier sensing did not. However, this argument does not withstand serious scrutiny. Sensing of the natural environment for resources, mapping contours, air and water pollution, land use, or any other purpose does not of itself affect the Earth any more than a meteorological satellite changes or affects the cloud formations it senses. If we are to be serious about our work, we must discard these facile arguments and come to grips with the essence of the facts, including the genuine concerns which are before us.
Attempts to inhibit or even prohibit the gathering and exchange and analysis of information about the Earth are misdirected in that they will not solve what seem to be the underlying concerns which generate them. They are counterproductive, in that they could, if pressed, undermine or eliminate the potential for developing extraordinary new benefits which can be meaningfully shared by all peoples in all countries of the world.
An essential tenet of both the Brazilian-Argentine and the French-Soviet drafts, as we read them, appears to be the belief that if each state would have a right to prohibit the dissemination to third parties of data about its territory, then each of those states would be more secure and better off. We believe that the majority of states, including especially the large number of developing countries, will see the situation differently. Their prime need is to identify what resources they have. They will want equal access to all information about their resources. They will not want it available only to those few countries which operate spacecraft, which in our view would be the result of a restrictive data dissemination system. The surest and perhaps the only reliable way to protect states from being comparatively disadvantaged or discriminated against is to ensure that all states and all peoples have as much opportunity to obtain that data as does anyone else.
The total body of information and understanding about the world can grow at a much greater rate with the cooperative efforts of investigators throughout the world, and that growth will benefit in particular those states which do not have the financial resources to carry on sophisticated sensing programs themselves even within their own territories.
The United States does not make this point to defend our own interests. We expect to have access to and to use data about the natural environment of this Earth in any case. We believe that it is strongly in the interests of other states that we and other collectors of this data share it rather than being in effect asked not to. Technical and Organizational Realities
Quite apart from the scientific or political merits or disadvantages of a restrictive dissemination system, such a system does not appear either technically or economically feasible, and hence if such restrictions were universally agreed the result could be the complete negation of virtually any public system for remote sensing of the natural environment of the Earth. We have no capability to separate satellite images along the lines of invisible political boundaries. If in the future some technical means for doing so were discovered, it is still highly improbable that the cost of applying it could be brought down to the level at which it would be economically feasible. As a practical matter, and in the end we must deal with the practical realm, it makes little sense to adopt a restrictive dissemination system unless we are prepared to negate the possibility of any internationally available source of remote sensing data. The United States would oppose such a decision and would consider it most unfortunate and a great mistake if agreed to by others.
Finally, on this point I would note the fact that limiting the data availability to conform to national boundaries, even if it were feasible, would destroy many of the most useful functions of satellite remote sensing systems, functions including the study of ecological systems, water systems, pollution, soil moisture conditions, rift systems, vegetation and soil patterns as well as most other objectives of sensing systems such as those undertaken by the Landsat experiments. The most pressing need for such satellite observations involves the acquisition and analysis of large area and global data in order to make it possible to deal with problems which are inherently regional or global in character.
Mr. Stowe concluded by expressing U. S. willingness to participate actively in efforts to examine whether existing international agreements and guidelines might be improved. He presented a working paper containing a number of provisions reflecting the