International Institute of Space Law

Article

What Level of Detail in National Commercial Space Legislation Is Ideal for the Harmonization and Enforcement of Such Legislation and the Outer Space Treaty?

Authors Matthew Schaefer
Author's information

Matthew Schaefer
Haggart & Work Professor of International Trade Law & Founding Co-Director – Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program, University of Nebraska College of Law.
  • Abstract

      Most national commercial space legislation imposes a general obligation to comply with the Outer Space Treaty, often by reference to compliance with international obligations generally, on commercial entities seeking authorization to engage in space activities. Accordingly, a low-level or minimalistic harmonization exists in this respect. However, different wording in national space laws of even this very generally worded obligation as well as failure to include such an obligation in a select number of national space laws makes such harmonization imperfect. The consequences of this minimalistic, imperfect harmonization are a reduction in potential transparency benefits to private parties and missed opportunities to advance a coalescence of views of countries around Outer Space Treaty obligations. More detail in national space legislation regarding what the Outer Space Treaty requires may assist in achieving greater coalescence of views among countries of Outer Space Treaty obligations beyond what can be achieved relying on diplomacy alone within the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and in other forums. It may also provide more transparency and certainty to private parties and confirm that OST obligations are minimally burdensome for commercial entities, thereby helping their business cases and expanding commercial space innovation and investment.

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