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Ecuador - Legal state of the Geostationary Orbit

The geostationary orbit is a circular orbit on the Equatorial plane in which the period of sideral revolution of the satellite is equal to the period of sideral rotation of the Earth and the satellite moves in the same direction of the Earth's rotation. When a satellite describes this particular orbit, it is said to be geostationary; such a satellite appears to be stationary in the sky, when viewed from the earth, and is fixed on the zenith of a given point of the Equator, whose longitude is by definition that of the satellite. This orbit is located at an approximate distance of 35,871 Km over the Earth's Equator.

The frequencies and orbit of geostationary satellites are limited natural resources, fully accepted as such by current standards of the International Telecommunications Union. Technological advancement has caused a continuous increase in the number of satellites that use this orbit, which could result in a saturation in the near future.

Representatives of the States traversed by the Equator - Brasil, Colombia, Congo, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kenya, Uganda, and Zaire - met in Bogota, Republic of Colombia, from 29 November through 3 December, 1976 with the purpose of studying the geostationary orbit that corresponds to their national terrestrial, sea, and insular territory and considered as a natural resource.

The equatorial countries declared 03 December 1976 that the geostationary synchronous orbit is a physical fact linked to the reality of our planet because its existence depends exclusively on its relation to gravitational phenomena generated by the earth, and that is why it must not be considered part of the outer space. Therefore, the segments of geostationary synchronous orbit are part of the territory over which Equatorial states exercise their national sovereignty. The geostationary orbit is a scarce natural resource, whose importance and value increase rapidly together with the development of space technology and with the growing need for communication; therefore, the Equatorial countries meeting in Bogota have decided to proclaim and defend on behalf of their peoples, the existence of their sovereignty over this natural resource. The geostationary orbit represents a unique facility that it alone can offer for telecommunication services and other uses which require geostationary satellites.

In qualifying this orbit as a natural resource, equatorial states reaffirm "the right of the peoples and of nations to permanent sovereignty over their wealth and natural resources that must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the welfare of the people of the nation concerned," as it is set forth in Resolution 2692 (XXV) of the United Nations General Assembly entitled "permanent sovereignty over the natural resources of developing countries and expansion of internal accumulation sources for economic developments".

The sovereign rights put forward by the equatorial countries are directed towards rendering tangible benefits to their respective people and for the universal community, which is completely different from the present reality when the orbit is used to the greater benefit of the most developed countries. Equatorial states do not condone the existing satellites or the position they occupy on their segments of the Geostationary Orbit nor does the existence of said satellites confer any rights of placement of satellites or use of the segment unless expressly authorized by the state exercising sovereignty over this segment.

The new 2008 Constitution states that the State has the duty to ensure and defend the sovereignty of Ecuador, whose concept in this draft Constitution goes beyond the sovereignty and territorial boundary. Article 4 concerns the Ecuador's right to exercise rights on the synchronous geostationary orbit, maritime areas and Antarctica.

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