Signing of Outer Space Treaty.
Credit: United Nations

 

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the international community are celebrating fifty years since the Outer Space Treaty entered into force on October 10, 1967.

The Outer Space Treaty — officially entitled the Treaty of Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies — is the foundation of international space law.

Twenty-four countries ratified the Treaty in 1967, and now 105 countries are party to the Treaty.

Credit: ESA/NASA

Space diplomacy

Among its articles

  • The Outer Space Treaty makes countries liable for damage caused by objects they launch into space and countries that are party of the treaty have to take responsibility for their activities in space.
  • It also prohibits nations from placing weapons of mass destruction in outer space.
  • The exploration and use of outer space is for all humankind, it states in the treaty, and no country can lay claim to the Moon or any other celestial body.

Space cowboys? International lawyers are trying to agree on what legislation will be needed to control the exploration of mineral resources in space to avoid a new ‘Wild West’.
Credit: James Vaughan

 

 

Historical origins

Explains UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo:

“As we look back on 50 years of the Outer Space Treaty, we remember its historical origins, celebrate the international cooperation and achievements it has facilitated, as well as to look ahead to an exciting future of space activities from exploring our solar system to developing better technology for improving lives on Earth. The Treaty is a commitment from the international community to preserve space peacefully, for all of us, and the generations to come.”

 

 

 

Resources

A number of postings have taken a long look at the Outer Space Treaty.

To brush-up on the basics and critical calls to reshape the Treaty, go to this assortment of resources:

1)

Information about the Outer Space Treaty, as well as the other space law treaties and principles, is available at:

http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties.html.

2)

The Outer Space Treaty’s Midlife Funk by Kyle Evanoff, research associate in international economics and U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.

https://www.cfr.org/blog/outer-space-treatys-midlife-funk

3)

Build on the outer space treaty by Joan Johnson-Freese, professor of national-security affairs and chair of science, space and technology at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.

http://links.ealert.nature.com/ctt?kn=8&ms=NTUxMTk1ODIS1&r=MjA1NTkwOTU0MwS2&b=2&j=MTI2MTk0NzczMgS2&mt=1&rt=0

4)

The Outer Space Treaty at 50: An enduring basis for cooperative security by Paul Meyer, an adjunct professor of international studies at Simon Fraser University and a Senior Fellow with The Simons Foundation in Vancouver, Canada.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3335/1

5)

Reopening the American Frontier: Exploring How the Outer Space Treaty Will Impact American Commerce and Settlement in Space, a hearing convened by the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness.

https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2017/5/reopening-the-american-frontier-exploring-how-the-outer-space-treaty-will-impact-american-commerce-and-settlement-in-space

6)

The Outer Space Treaty: Assessing its Relevance at the 50-Year Mark by James A. Vedda, Center for Space Policy and Strategy, The Aerospace Corporation.

http://aerospace.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/OuterSpaceTreaty.pdf

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