The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution against anti-satellite weapons

The resolution on the prohibition of direct-action anti-satellite weapons was adopted by the UN General Assembly. Unfortunately, it is only advisory in nature. Meanwhile, the US continues its efforts aimed at reducing the risks of its use.

The UN General Assembly. Source:

Has the General Assembly prohibited anti-satellite weapons?

On December 13, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution aimed at countering the use of weapons to destroy spacecraft. It is directed against one of its types, which directly leads to the physical destruction of spacecraft.

Anti-satellite missiles pose a significant danger to the civilian infrastructure in orbit due to the formation of a large amount of debris. For example, during the testing of Russian weapons in November last year, about 800 of them were formed and some of them were still in orbit and could damage a civilian satellite or even the International Space Station. 

In fact, the resolution only calls on countries to abandon anti-satellite weapons and not test them unless absolutely necessary. Despite this, the General Assembly did not adopt it unanimously. Even during the discussion in the First Committee, 8 countries opposed it. These were Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria, Bolivia and Belarus.

During the voting at the General Assembly, the Central African Republic joined them. At the same time, 155 countries voted for the resolution. Interestingly, at the same time, India, which also has its own anti-satellite weapons, abstained in both votes.

U.S. diplomatic efforts

Despite the fact that the resolution is in the nature of a recommendation, it is very positively received in the United States. Vice President Kamala Harris welcomed it with a tweet, saying that it makes the ban against satellite weapons an international norm.

It was Harris who in April of this year announced the unilateral refusal of the United States from anti-satellite weapons. Since then, 9 countries have joined them, none of which has its own project of rockets capable of hitting spacecraft. France was the last to do so.

In parallel, the United States continues to work in the relevant UN working group. It was created a year ago after Russian tests. It has held two meetings this year and two more are expected in 2023. The United States expects that these efforts will eventually culminate in the adoption of a more binding document than the one that the General Assembly has adopted now. 

In addition, Artemis Accords also have a certain significance in the efforts of the United States. They do not directly regulate the use of anti-satellite weapons in any way. However, their participants undertake not to create space debris. Therefore, the United States can use them as an instrument of influence.

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