Solar system exploration as an international enterprise has entered a new era of activity and multinational cooperation. A number of the currently envisaged missions are targeted to bodies (e.g., Mars, Europa) that have significant interest with respect to the origin of life and chemical evolution, and the potential for biological studies. COSPAR has an important role as the standard-setting international organization in the area of planetary protection—a required reference for international missions to such bodies. Recently, COSPAR has formed a Panel on Planetary Protection that is concerned with the development, maintenance, and promulgation of planetary protection knowledge, policy, and plans to prevent the harmful effects of biological contamination—and through symposia, workshops, and topical meetings at COSPAR Assemblies to provide an international forum for exchange of information in this area. Through COSPAR the Panel will inform the international community, e.g., the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) of the United Nations, as well as various other bilateral and multilateral organizations. This Panel will work to ensure that its deliberations are based on the best current knowledge of the nature of the extraterrestrial bodies involved and to appreciate the potential biological implications of that knowledge. The nature of the deliberations of the body should serve both science and policy development requirements. Example missions for which a consensus agreement on requirements will be sought include Mars sample return missions, Europa Orbiter, and missions to other small bodies of the solar system (MUSES-C and Stardust). Mission planning and implementation efforts need a scientifically appropriate standard, developed as a consensus within the Panel, on which to base their efforts.