Conflicts in Space: International Humanitarian Law and Its Application to Space Warfare

McGill Annals of Air and Space Law, Vol XXXX (2015)

RUMLAE Research Paper No. 16-18

33 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2016 Last revised: 6 Apr 2020

See all articles by Dale Stephens

Dale Stephens

Adelaide Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics (RUMLAE)

Cassandra Steer

ANU College of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 22, 2016

Abstract

This article discusses the ways in which International Humanitarian Law (IHL) applies to the domain of outer space. IHL is applicable as a matter of international law, yet outer space poses some challenges when it comes to specific principles and rules. A brief outline is given of some of the kinds of weapons that have been and might be used in space, as well as the ways in which space assets are used with respect to conflicts on Earth. This is followed by an in depth analysis of the core principles of IHL and how they apply: the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack. While it is imperative that States recognise that IHL is applicable to all their activities in space that involve conflicts on Earth and/or in space, care must be taken in weighing up the traditional principles and their application to this new domain. As the technology that increases war-fighting capability advances, so does the imperative to understand the applicable legal framework for the use of such technology.

Keywords: international humanitarian law, law of armed conflict, space warfare, public international law, space law, modern warfare

JEL Classification: 033, K33, K42

Suggested Citation

Stephens, Dale and Steer, Cassandra, Conflicts in Space: International Humanitarian Law and Its Application to Space Warfare (January 22, 2016). McGill Annals of Air and Space Law, Vol XXXX (2015), RUMLAE Research Paper No. 16-18, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2722315

Dale Stephens

Adelaide Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics (RUMLAE) ( email )

SA 5005
Australia
+61 (0)8 8313 5937 (Phone)

Cassandra Steer (Contact Author)

ANU College of Law ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

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