European Journal of Law Reform

Article

Peaceful Purposes? Governing the Military Uses of Outer Space

Keywords space law, armed conflict, peaceful purposes, space warfare
Authors Steven Freeland
Author's information

270845 Steven Freeland
Professor of International Law, Western Sydney University; Visiting Professor, University of Vienna: Permanent Visiting Professor, iCourts Centre of Excellence for International Courts, Denmark; Member of Faculty, London Institute of Space Policy and Law; Director, International Institute of Space Law; Member of the Space Law Committee, International Law Association; Member, European Centre of Space Law.
  • Abstract

      The development of satellite technology to enhance the exploration and use of outer space has continued at a rapid rate ever since the space age began in 1957. Satellites play a vital part of many aspects of daily life, and also with respect to the conduct of armed conflict. Most military leaders regard space-related technology as an integral element of their strategic battle platform. This reflects the changing technological nature of armed conflict, which challenges many aspects of international law, including the regulation of warfare. This is particularly the case with respect to the use of satellite technology. Moreover, the continuing development of this technology challenges the core of the ‘peaceful purposes’ doctrine that underpins the international regulation of outer space. This article discusses the application of the United Nations Space Treaties and the laws of war to the use of outer space during armed conflict and offers some reflections as to what is required to properly address the issue.

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