A Vibe Check on Space Security Diplomacy: Progress or More Spinning Wheels?

When: Thursday, October 26, 2023

Time: 11:00 ET

Where: Streamyard

Space security discussions within the United Nations have been taking place since the early 1980s, although without much progress. Over the last several years there has been an attempt to reboot these discussions by shifting them from debating definitions and prohibitions on space weapons to discussions on broader space threats and responsible or irresponsible behavior. 

In 2021, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted to convene an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on “Reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours.” The OEWG on Reducing Space Threats held four week-long meetings across 2022 and 2023 that included more than seventy countries and featured some of the first substantive discussions on space security since the 2011 Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-building Measures in Outer Space Activities. The OEWG completed in August 2023 without having reached consensus on a summary report of their discussions, let alone agreement on ways to address these critical issues. Concurrently, the United States launched a new initiative with a voluntary moratorium on destructive direct ascent antisatellite (DA-ASAT) missile testing, which has since garnered additional pledges from 34 additional countries.

On October 26, SWF held a webinar with a virtual panel of experts to discuss what happened during the OEWG, why it was important, and what the next steps might be. The event also included a presentation by Ching Wei Sooi on his research with the Swiss Existential Risk Initiative (CHERI) into why countries supported, or did not support, the recent UN General Assembly resolution supporting broader international adoption of the DA-ASAT missile testing moratorium. 

As part of this event, SWF launched a new Fact Sheet on the OEWG on Reducing Space Threats as well as a tracking sheet on support for multilateral space security initiatives, including the No First Placement Pledge, first introduced by the Russian Federation in 2004, and the DA-ASAT Testing Moratorium, which was first introduced by the United States in 2022.


Part 1 - Recapping the UN OEWG on Reducing Space Threats (45 min)


  • Almudena Azcarate Ortega, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
  • Cláudio Medeiros Leopoldino, Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Jessica West, Project Ploughshares

Moderator: Ms. Victoria Samson, SWF Washington Office Director

Part 2 - Why Countries Supported or Opposed the DA-ASAT Testing Moratorium (30 min)

Presenter: Ching Wei Sooi (slides)

Moderator: Dr. Brian Weeden, SWF Director of Program Planning

Part 3: Launch of New SWF Products on Multilateral Space Security Initiatives (15 min)

Moderator: Dr. Brian Weeden, SWF Director of Program Planning



For more information, please contact Dr. Brian Weeden.

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Last updated on January 31, 2024