The Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States

The first important steps
towards formulation of space law was taken in the form of a General Assembly
Resolution in 1961 where it was commended to States that international law applies
to outer space and that outer space was free for exploration and from national
appropriation. 1
Thereafter in 1963, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration of Legal
Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer
Space2
which laid the foundation for the Outer Space Treaty,3
the magna carta of space law. Even
afterwards, some of the most important documents of space law are in the form
of General Assembly resolutions such as the Principles Governing the Use by States
of Artificial Earth Satellites for International Direct Television Broadcasting4,
Principles relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space5,
Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space6,
Declaration on International Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer
Space for the Benefit and in the Interest of All States, Taking into Particular
Account the Needs of Developing Countries7
and the
General Assembly Resolution endorsing the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines
developed by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space “Space Debris
Guidelines”.8
In June 2016, the Committee
on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space “COPUOS” agreed to a first set of
guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities9 and has been working
towards forming a full compendium for long term sustainability of outer space
and refer the same to the General Assembly in 2018. Proposed LTS Guidelines. This
paper will deal with the relevance of the General Assembly resolutions which
lay down important principles of space law, that are neither treaties nor have
reached the stature of customary law.

 

* Upasana
Dasgupta is a student of doctoral studies at Faculty of Law and Institute of
Air and Space Law, McGill University. Her research interests include public
international law and space law.

1 International Cooperation in the
Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, GA Res 1721 (XVI),
UNGAOR, 16th Sess, UN Doc RES 1721 (XVI), (1961) < http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_14_1472E.pdf>

2 Declaration of Legal Principles Governing
the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, GA Res
1962 (XVIII), UNGAOR, 18th Sess, UN Doc RES 1962 (XVIII) (1963) < http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_18_1962E.pdf>
Declaration of Legal Principles

3 Treaty on Principles Governing the
Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the
Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, 27 January, 1967, 610 UNTS 205 (entered
into force 10 November, 1967) Outer Space Treaty

4 Principles Governing the Use by States of
Artificial Earth Satellites for International Direct Television Broadcasting,
GA Res 37/92, UNGAOR, 37th Sess, UN Doc A/RES/37/92 (1982) < http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_37_92E.pdf>

5 Principles relating to Remote Sensing of the
Earth from Outer Space, GA Res 41/65, UNGAOR, 41st Sess,
UN Doc A/RES/41/65 (1986) < http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_41_65E.pdf>
Remote Sensing Principles

6 Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear
Power Sources in Outer Space, GA Res 47/68, UNGAOR, 47th Sess,
UN Doc A/RES/47/68 (1992) < http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_47_68E.pdf>

7 Declaration on International Cooperation in
the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for the Benefit and in the Interest of
All States, Taking into Particular Account the Needs of Developing Countries,
GA Res 51/122, UNGAOR, 51st Sess, UN Doc A/RES/51/122 (1997) < http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_51_122E.pdf>
“Benefits Declaration”

8 International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, GA Res 62/217, UNGAOR, 62nd Sess,
UN Doc A/RES/62/217 (2008) < http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_62_217E.pdf>

9 Report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer
Space,
UNGAOR, 71st Sess, Supp No 20, UN Doc A/71/20, Annex (2016), < http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/documents-and-resolutions/search.jspx?view=&match=A%2F71%2F20>

Author: