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In 1959, the United Nations General Assembly established the permanent Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space with 18 members (shortly after the launch of Sputnik). Since then, it has grown to one of the largest Committees in the United Nations. The Committee was set up by the General Assembly to govern the exploration and use of space for the benefit of all humanity: for peace, security and development. It was instrumental in the creation of the five treaties and five principles of outer space.
Five treaties were adopted to reinforce the framework set by the Outer Space Treaty.

Five sets of principles support that body of law. These are the declaration of legal principles governing the activities of States in Outer Space (1963), the principles relating to international direct television broadcasting (1982), the principles relating to remote sensing of the Earth (1986), the principles on the use of nuclear power sources (1992) and the declaration on international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space (1996).

The Committee has two subsidiary bodies: the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, and the Legal Subcommittee, both established in 1961. The Committee reports to the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly, which adopts an annual resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

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