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Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
30 March 2001
Concern Over Space Junk
The New Zealand and Australian Foreign Ministers, in Santiago, Chile, for the Ministerial meeting of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC), 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.
The Ministers noted that 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 international rules. This could involve, for example, developing policy and practice 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 two Ministers also noted that such policies and practices would need to be consistent with existing international agreements, including those on hazardous wastes and protection of the ocean and marine environment.
Australia and New Zealand will encourage further international discussion of these issues in the appropriate fora.
Santiago de Chile