The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was set up by the General Assembly in 1959. Since its establishment, the Committee's membership has continued to expand. The Committee is the only committee of the General Assembly dealing exclusively with international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and its role as a forum to monitor and discuss developments related to the exploration and use of outer space has evolved alongside with the technical advancements in space exploration, geopolitical changes, and the evolving use of space science and technology for sustainable development.
The overall mandate of the Committee and its two Subcommittees aims at strengthening the international legal regime governing outer space, resulting in improved conditions for expanding international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. The mandate also specifies that the Committee should supports efforts at the national, regional and global levels, including those of entities of the United Nations system and international space-related entities, to maximize the benefits of the use of space science and technology and their applications. Overall, the Committee aims to increase coherence and synergy in international cooperation in space activities at all levels.
The Legal Subcommittee meets every year for two weeks to discuss legal questions related to the exploration and use of outer space. Topics include the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space, the definition and delimitation of outer space, national space legislation, legal mechanisms relating to space debris mitigation, and international mechanisms for cooperation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.