Endorsements of a Code of Conduct

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Endorsements of a Code of Conduct

The long-term sustainability of our space environment is at serious risk from space debris and irresponsible actors. Ensuring the stability, safety, and security of our space systems is of vital interest to the United States and the global community. These systems allow the free flow of information across platforms that open up our global markets, enhance weather forecasting and environmental monitoring, and enable global navigation and transportation.

Unless the international community addresses these challenges, the environment around our planet will become increasingly hazardous to human spaceflight and satellite systems, which would create damaging consequences for all of us.

In response to these challenges, the United States has decided to join with the European Union and other nations to develop an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. A Code of Conduct will help maintain the long-term sustainability, safety, stability, and security of space by establishing guidelines for the responsible use of space.

As we begin this work, the United States has made clear to our partners that we will not enter into a code of conduct that in any way constrains our national security-related activities in space or our ability to protect the United States and our allies. We are, however, committed to working together to reverse the troubling trends that are damaging our space environment and to preserve the limitless benefits and promise of space for future generations.


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Department of State Press Release »



In May 2013, the EU and the Government of Ukraine co-hosted in Kiev an Open-Ended Consultations on the draft Code of Conduct which enabled an extensive exchange among participants. They put forward their comments and suggestions regarding the draft Code. Following these consultations the EU has presented a revised draft, which is proposed for further discussion at the next round of Open-ended Consultations to take place in November, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. The EU calls on all interested States to continue to engage on this process towards an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.


Mr. Jacek Bylica

Special Envoy for Non-proliferation and Disarmament European External Action Service

UN General Assembly, October 7, 2013 »



The Group endorses efforts to pursue political commitments, for example, in the form of unilateral declarations, bilateral commitments or a multilateral code of conduct, to encourage responsible actions in, and the peaceful use of, outer space. The Group concludes that voluntary political measures can form the basis for consideration of concepts and proposals for legally binding obligation.


Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and

Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities

UN General Assembly, July 29, 2013 »



I think the first thing that I would really like to propose is that we would put in place a process that will lead to a clear set of rules of the road. 


Gen. Ronald Fogleman, USAF (ret.),

Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force, May 13, 2010 » 



The safe and responsible use of space and preservation of the space environment are important issues for all nations, especially for space-faring nations. Encouraging responsible behavior through establishment of international norms, such as the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines led by the United States and endorsed by the UN General Assembly, may be an excellent model. If confirmed, I will work closely with other Departments and Agencies to explore options to address generation of space debris and to promote the development of international norms for safe and responsible behavior in space. 


Michael Nacht,

Statement to Senate Armed Services Committee, April 28, 2009

Nominee for Assistant Secretary Global Strategic Affairs Department of Defense »



Whether we can succeed will depend on actions we take here at home - restoring strong economic growth and maintaining our scientific and technological edge and defending ourselves at reasonable cost in dollars without violating our civil liberties. It will also depend on our actions abroad, not only in how we deal with regions, regimes and crises, but also in developing new multilateral systems, formal or informal, for effective international cooperation in trade and finance, in neutralizing extremist groups using terrorism, in controlling the proliferation of WMD, developing codes of conduct for cyberspace and space, and in mitigating and slowing global climate change.


Adm. Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence

Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community, February 12, 2009 » 



Possessing the significant potential for the development of space programs including launches of space carrier Ukraine strictly adheres to relevant principles of international law. In accordance with the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation Ukraine provides transparency in its space activity. In this regard, Ukraine welcomes joint initiatives of the Russian Federation and China which presented a draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects. We also support the efforts of the European Union aimed at improving safety and transparency in the Outer Space by implementing draft Code of Conduct on Outer Space Activity. Ukraine is convinced that these initiatives will contribute to the concrete and substantive discussions on the issue of strengthening security in outer space.


Mr. Mykola Maimeskul, Ambassador and

Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Office,

Statement given at the International Organizations in Geneva at the Plenary Meeting of the

 Conference on Disarmament, March 17, 2009 »  



Russia and China, in particular, are also concerned that US technological superiority could lead to it gaining military advantage by developing space weapons. They have jointly proposed a treaty to prevent the placement of weapons in space. But there is no international consensus on the need for this, given that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty already imposes constraints on the military uses of space. An alternative way forward in the medium term may be an International Code of Conduct on Outer Space Activities aimed at enhancing transparency and confidence-building measures.


United Kingdom, February 5, 2009

"Lifting the Nuclear Shadow: Creating the Conditions for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons"

Policy Information Paper »



A treaty that increases space security is a good idea but is likely to take a long time to negotiate. There is a simpler and quicker way to go: a Code of Conduct for responsible space-faring nations. One key element of that Code must include a prohibition against harmful interference against satellites.


Senator Barack Obama

Response to Policy Questionnaire, Council for a Livable World, 2008 » 



Emphasizes that the protective measures must be fully compliant with international standards regarding peaceful uses of outer space and commonly agreed transparency and confidence-building measures (TCBMs); asks EU Member States to explore the possibility of developing legally or politically binding "rules of the road" for space operators, together with a space traffic management regime


European Parliament

Article 41, Resolution of 10 July 2008 on Space and Security »



I think as a government, we should examine the potential utility of a code of conduct or "rules of the road" for the space domain, thus providing a common understanding of acceptable or unacceptable behavior within a medium shared by all nations.


General Kevin P. Chilton, USAF
Statement to Senate Armed Services Committee »



While arms control agreements alone cannot eliminate threats or reduce miscalculations, international norms and rules of the road can play a positive role. Like-minded nations can and should agree on principles for minimizing debris in space, reducing potentially hazardous actions, increasing cooperation and information sharing, and establishing accountability for disruptive or hostile space actions. The United States should once again seize a leadership role in shaping these norms, either by unilateral declaration and action or by joint action with friends and allies.


Representative Jane Harman, California
Space News, April 9, 2007 »



Italy recognized that some CD members had other priorities, such as the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS). While waiting for more concrete projects on PAROS, Italy supported the idea of discussing a code of conduct for outer space.

Statement of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament
March 13, 2007 »



Switzerland emphasized the utility of confidence-building measures in space, including a code of conduct for space activities and provisions to prevent space debris and noted that this will be taken up during the 2007 UN General Assembly. It said a code of conduct could include measures to regulate space traffic, and prevent or prohibit dangerous actions or actions of those with questionable objectives.

Statement of Switzerland to the Conference on Disarmament
March 6, 2007 »



[The United States should] begin an international dialogue on 'Rules of the Road' for space - Although there may be disagreement as to the value of additional laws or space treaties, there seems to be general acceptance that certain guidelines or norms developed by consensus may play a useful role in ordering our activities in space. A good example is the space debris guidelines developed by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordinating Committee, an intergovernmental body created to exchange information on space debris research and mitigation measures. The development of other non-binding guidelines - such as protocols for informing other operators when a spacecraft under your control could potentially cause damage to other space objects - should be investigated.

David McGlade, CEO Intelsat

 Space News, February 19, 2007 »



Any confidence-building measures could among others be based on the principle of non-interference with non-aggressive activities in space and drawing up a "code of conduct" and "rules of behaviour" or "rules of the road" in space. Elements drawn up might include the avoidance of collision or interference; minimum distances between satellites places in the same orbit. Avoiding collisions, avoidance of dangerous maneuvers and debris mitigation could be among other issues, that warrant further evaluation and discussion.


European Union Statement to the Conference on Disarmament

 Geneva, February 13, 2007 »



...China's action poses a "major problem and something the world community needs to address." "We're now stuck with hundreds of pieces of this Chinese satellite for a hundred years, and it's having an impact on the entire global commons," she said, noting that there needs to be "common norms and acceptable rules of behavior in space."


 Representative Ellen Tauscher, California
Washington Times, February 2, 2007 »



Canada advocates building conditions in a range of areas which will inspire confidence that all nations will have sustained access to space and to the benefits of its peaceful use. We should consider establishing rules of the road that all can understand and follow. Order and expectations of defined acceptable behaviour are needed. In this vein, consideration should be given to an international code of conduct which would help to guide space activities.


Statement of Canada to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

February, 2007 »



On the diplomatic front, Washington should consider whether crafting codes of conduct for space might lead to many of the benefits that advocates of a space arms control treaty wish for, but without as many technical difficulties and risks.


 Aviation Week and Space Technology editorial, January 29, 2007


Better to try something more modest [than a treaty]: a code of responsible conduct between existing space powers that emerging ones could also sign up to. Such a code proposed by the Washington-based Stimson Centre, a think-tank, working with a group of non-government experts from China, Russia, Canada, France and Japan, would rule out interfering with other nations' space systems, including using lasers to harm satellites (another trick several, including China, have practised), and avoid activities that create long-lasting space debris. It would also provide advance notice of space manoeuvres that might get in others' way.


The Economist, Leader, January 26, 2007 »



Now is a good time to lift the fog that has muddled the space control issue. There needs to be a candid discussion of all of the elements of space control and the options for achieving them - including a code of conduct for spacefaring nations as proposed by Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center. It was encouraging in that regard that the Senate Armed Services Committee, in its list of written questions submitted to defense secretary nominee Robert Gates prior to his confirmation hearing, included one seeking his thoughts on such a regime.


Space News editorial, December 11, 2006 »



One idea that deserves to be explored further is that of a Code of "Good Conduct" or "Best Practice." The Europeans must play their full part in this deliberation. We must also be in a better position to take advantage of the space technologies in order to reinforce security in international relations.


French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, Toulouse, November 17, 2006 »



The better way to go would be to act now to establish some rules of the road for space-faring nations. The Henry L. Stimson Center has developed a model code of conduct for space that includes no flight-testing or deployment of space weapons, minimizing space debris that can destroy satellites and cooperating on space traffic management. The time to act on these ideas is now, while the United States still maintains unparalleled dominance in space.


William Hartung, World Policy Institute, New York City, July 13, 2005 »



First, we - and by we, I mean the space community at large - must agree to some rules of the road with regard to operating in space. In our long range plan, we call this the "code of conduct," but either way, it means the same thing - we want to avoid the Wild West, or gold rush mentality - we want to take that out of the equation.


General Richard B. Myers

Commander, US Space Command, April 7, 1999 »