SEOUL, South Korea – From the accumulation of space debris in low Earth orbit to questions about the ownership of space resources, the space race of the 21st century brings with it a myriad of issues that can cause conflict between space nations.
South Korea’s deputy foreign minister said last week that the most effective way to resolve them was through an international diplomatic framework like the Artemis Accords. The deputy minister expects that the more the space race intensifies, the more important the role of diplomacy will be.
“The increase in the number of parties and the resulting proliferation of space activities call for a review of global space governance to enable us to better manage potential conflicts and foster a safe and predictable environment for all involved”, Deputy Foreign Minister Choi said. Jong-moon in an August 12 speech at the 2021 Space Diplomacy Forum, which was broadcast live on YouTube. “Such challenges cannot be met by a single country, which makes us think that international cooperation through diplomacy will be of redoubled importance in the coming era. “
Without international coordination, Choi said, countries could “easily find themselves trapped in a race to the bottom as they strive for a competitive advantage.” Unregulated space activities could also generate a host of problems, from space debris to legal uncertainties involving issues such as property rights in space, he added.
It was the first international space diplomacy forum in South Korea since the nation signed the Artemis agreements in May. The event was co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Institute for Science and Technology Policy (STEPI), a state think tank.
The forum brought together dozens of space experts and policy makers at home and abroad.
STEPI President Mun Mi-ock stressed the importance of international cooperation on space issues to effectively address global challenges, including climate change.
“We should break away from traditional space cooperation by focusing on trade in space technologies to evolve it in such a way as to strengthen multilateral cooperation from the point of view of space diplomacy,” Mun said.
David A Turner, acting director of space affairs at the US State Department, praised South Korea’s participation in the Artemis accords, which he said represent US efforts to “promote responsible behavior in space exploration activities beyond Earth orbit ”.
Turner said that while the agreements focus specifically on government-led civilian beyond-Earth orbit activities, the United States looks forward to “engaging with South Korea and all of our partners in the world. ‘agreement regarding the authorization to continue monitoring our respective commercial space sectors in accordance with the principles of the agreement.
Neal Newman, deputy director of NASA’s Office of International and Interagency Relations, called South Korea “an ideal partner for NASA in Artemis [Accords]. “
“When NASA looks at Korea, we see a nation of highly educated, very talented, very hard-working people who have superior technological capability,” Newman said. “We also see a nation that is very interested in leading in space, more importantly, in leading responsibly in space. The Republic of Korea has signed the Artemis Agreements and has shown that you want to be a strong partner with NASA and other responsible space agencies around the world. The Republic of Korea and the Koreans are therefore ideal partners for NASA in Artemis.
Asked about the role South Korea should play in the Artemis program, Newman said it was “very difficult to be precise at the moment.”
When asked how the United States would react if South Korea cooperates with China in space, Newman avoided a straightforward answer. Instead, he said, “We would like the Chinese to sign the Artemis agreements. I don’t know if they are interested in doing it. If they do, it would really allow even more multilateral collaboration. “