International Institute of Space Law

Article

Future Perspectives of International Humanitarian Law Application to State Activities in Space

Authors Darya Bohdan
Author's information

Darya Bohdan
Darya Bohdan, PhD Student at Department of International Law, Belarusian State University, Minsk, Belarus. This paper represents the personal opinion of the author and shall not be attributed to any organization with which she is affiliated.
  • Abstract

      The present paper focuses on analysis of international humanitarian law application to space in the light of IHL status as lex specialis due to circumstances of armed conflict and space law status as lex specialis due to area of application. How “non-aggressive” and “non-military” activities correlate to possibility of use of force and recourse to self-defence in space? Shall international humanitarian law norms prevail over regulations under international space law on use of weapons and establishment of semi- and demilitarized zones? Are attacks on space objects, which have plurality of launching states, legitimate? In which cases targeting dual-use space objects is legal? Following answers to these questions the paper draws attention to theatre of war in space area and destruction of space objects in light of damage caused by space debris to space environment. Issues of combatants from civilians distinction among astronauts and obligations on rendering assistance to them are analysed. Based on the done analysis the paper elaborates on proper modes of actions in the situation of international armed conflict in space from the point of view of both, international space and humanitarian law obligations fulfilment. Possibility of non-international armed conflict in space due to plurality of launching states of space objects is presented. Finally, topics for further research are introduced (obligations of neutral parties in control of private national space activities and compensation of damage, caused by space objects, during armed conflict) and conclusions on future development of space related international humanitarian law norms are formulated.

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