Jurisdiction in Outer Space: Challenges of Private Individuals in Space
Journal of Space Law, Vol. 33, p. 299, 2007
42 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2009
Date Written: 9 1, 2007
Since the “notion of jurisdiction finds its origins in the concept of territory, the principle of sovereign equality, and noninterference with the domestic affairs of states,” nations will have to use new and innovative legal regimes in order to exert legal controls over people in space. This paper surveys the current national and international jurisdictional regimes that are present in the context of outer space. First, it addresses both international customary law and treaty law contexts for jurisdiction in outer space. It then identifies the lacunae which are left open by the international regimes. Following this analysis, it looks at ways in which states have used national laws to fill these gaps in jurisdiction. In so doing, the paper illustrates that states have only created a jurisdictional patchwork that will be ineffective in the coming space boom. Finally, this paper proposes the concept of a space visa which will serve as a way to create an internationally uniform jurisdictional regime. The space visa will seek to treat spaceports as border regions, much as airports are treated today. Through the auspices of the space visa, a state will grant permission to leave the territory and enter space. In exchange for the permission, the space traveler will subjugate himself to the personal jurisdiction and laws of that state. The result will be a regime in which every individual in space will be subject to at least one state’s jurisdiction at all times, and that states will be better equipped to fulfill their duty to supervise non-governmental entities in space.
Keywords: jurisdiction, space law, international law
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