Space Weaponization and the United Nations Charter Regime on Force: A Thick Legal Fog or a Receding Mist?
49 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2010
Date Written: February 26, 2010
This article seeks to discuss some of the broad questions, particularly in the light of ever-expanding military uses of outer space and the significance, particularly to the major powers, of the military and strategic value associated with space technology ‘superiority.’ This article first looks at the historical efforts of the two main protagonists – the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia – to develop space military technology, in recognition of the unique strategic values this offered. It then highlights the relevant provisions of both international space law and the regime prohibiting the use of force under the United Nations Charter that may apply to the weaponization of outer space and proceeds to discuss the interaction of these legal principles to gauge whether and how they might (if at all) have a practical effect in curbing the growing threat posed by space weaponization, including in circumstances of a cyber-attack.
The authors conclude that, in light of the unique features of outer space and the very significant consequences that could emerge from a space arms race or, even worse, a ‘space war,’ the principles that do exist may not be specific enough to provide appropriate regulation for the increasingly diverse ways in which outer space could be used during the course of armed conflict. There is therefore a growing need to reach a consensus on additional space law regulation directly applicable to the increasing threat represented by the weaponization of outer space and its potential for use as a direct theatre of war.
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