Handbook of Space Law

Handbook of Space Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Frans von der Dunk

Handbook of Space Law addresses the legal and regulatory aspects of activities in outer space and major space applications from a comprehensive and structured perspective. The book fundamentally addresses the dichotomy between the state-oriented character of international space law and the increasing commercialization and privatization of space activities.

Chapter 6: Legal aspects of the military uses of outer space

Fabio Tronchetti

Subjects: law - academic, public international law


Since space activities from the beginning for a very large part were militarily oriented or related to defence and security issues, special attention has been paid to such aspects also in the legal context. Firstly, from this perspective, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and 1979 Moon Agreement provided for some broad, albeit rather vague, clauses limiting the use of space for military purposes. Secondly, a few general treaties dealing with disarmament and arms control implicitly or explicitly but prominently included space-related issues, such as the 1963 and 1996 Test Ban Treaties or the 1972 bilateral US–Soviet ABM Treaty. Thirdly, as per Article III of the Outer Space Treaty, also general public international law related to the use of force or threat thereof (jus ad bello), the rights to self-defence, retaliation and countermeasures, and general humanitarian law (jus in bello) in principle apply to outer space and space activities. Fourthly, specific regimes, both international (the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangement), and national (the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations – ITARs), and even EU (following Regulation 1334/2000) regulations on the international trade in military or dual-use goods have substantially affected space activities.

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