International Institute of Space Law

Article

The Fragmentation of International Space Law

Authors Vincent Seffinga en Mari Eldholm
Author's information

Vincent Seffinga
Vincent Seffinga, Department of Law, European University Institute, Villa Salviati, Via Bolognese 156, 50139 Florence, Italy.

Mari Eldholm
Mari Eldholm, in private capacity.
  • Abstract

      Since 2005 a growing number of states have adopted national space legislation to ensure adherence to international obligations, clarify rights under international space law, and promote regulatory certainty for space activities under their jurisdiction. While a certain degree of similarity is seen in the interpretation of these international obligations, the purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that diverging interpretations on a national level already exist. The interpretations that are reflected in national space legislation are often contextual and products of national space capabilities and ambitions. As such the Report of the Study Group of the International Law Commission on the Fragmentation of International Law regarding competing lex specialis, each with its own purpose and reasoning, will be discussed by analogy to provide insight into the processes and consequences of fragmentation of international law through diverging interpretations. Thereafter, this paper will present a brief comparative study on the scope of various national space legislation. This study will highlight variations in the interpretation of what it means to “carry out a space activity” under Article VI OST. Particular attention will be given to who is defined as carrying out a space activity and what is defined as a space activity. The conclusion will underline a need and urgency for coordination in the interpretation and application of space law, which is both beneficial and necessary to avoid the negative consequences of the fragmentation of international space law.

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