International Institute of Space Law

Article

Space Mining: The Delineation between National and International Jurisdiction

Authors Stephan Hobe en Rada Popova
Author's information

Stephan Hobe
Prof. Dr. Stephan Hobe is Director of the Institute of Air Law, Space Law and Cyber Law and Holder of the Chair for Public International Law, European Law, European and International Economic Law at the University of Cologne.

Rada Popova
Rada Popova is a senior lecturer (public international law, EU law and constitutional law) at the University of Cologne and research fellow at the Institute of Air Law and Space Law in Cologne.
  • Abstract

      The milestone provisions in the Outer Space Treaty designate outer space and celestial bodies as an area beyond national jurisdiction in which national jurisdiction extends only to space objects and persons in outer space. In view of upcoming commercial space mining activities and the recent national legal developments, it is of crucial importance to delineate the different levels of legal authority over space resource activities and to analyze them systematically. What is indisputable, in the first place, is that any national appropriation in outer space is prohibited by Article II OST, while the appropriation of resources is not explicitly mentioned. More specific provisions are formulated in the Moon Agreement. Its Article 11 prohibits the appropriation of resources on celestial bodies and states that such activities — as soon as they become feasible — must be regulated by the international community of States. While this moratorium on resource exploitation is binding only for the 18 ratifying State parties to the Moon Agreement, there is no doubt that the legal authority to regulate over outer space lies with the international community and not with single States. Unilateral legislative acts must conform to existing international provisions as outer space is an area beyond national jurisdiction. Where such explicit provisions are lacking – as is the case with the appropriation of space resources – the lawful scope of national authority must nevertheless be delineated through international regulation as States lack the national prescriptive authority to regulate over outer space and celestial bodies.

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