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13/04/2022

Challenges In International Space Law

With the recent launches of the first test commercial space flights: SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, it seems that the world's appetite for space exploration has never been greater.

Since the 1960s, the idea that space travel may one day be possible for “tourists” has been the dream of many. There is something about this vast, unexplored space that intrigues and excites people, and it has certainly been the subject of much speculation. It might not be a topic that those considering International Law degree careers would see in their future, but the challenges that are posed by international space law are very real.

International Space Law

What Is International Space Law?

Any activities that take place in space are overseen by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. This treaty was negotiated during the time of the Cold War when only the US and the Soviet Union had the capability of sending a craft into space and is currently ratified by 111 nations.

The treaty contains a number of principles that are there to guide the activities of any nation looking at space travel. These are, however, rather broad and specifically not too detailed. Freedom of exploration and the use of space by all mankind is assured. But as anyone with an LLM in International Law will point out, there are 2 caveats.

The first is that the Moon and other celestial bodies may only be used for purposes of a peaceful nature; no mention of the rest of space is made. The second states that anyone conducting any activity in space should pay “due regard to the corresponding interests of all other States Parties to the Treaty.” The Treaty, however, lacks clarity over “due regard” and “peaceful purposes.”

Special mention is made regarding nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction which may not be placed in space. But this does not exclude the idea of any ground-based weapons being used to destroy or damage assets already in space. Those seeking an LLM in International Law will certainly have their work cut out for them, in what could be an exciting time for law on a global scale.

What Are The Challenges?

A lot has changed in the world since the 1960s and space capabilities have never been more advanced, particularly in the light of those companies making advances toward flights for “space tourists”. Anyone involved in International Law Degree careers will probably agree that a detailed look at the treaty and an update of much of the information contained within is more than overdue.

Recent world events have certainly brought back into the public eye the complexities of space travel and the rules that govern it, particularly in light of situations when more than one country is involved.

Law Degrees

Law Degrees at the University of Bolton – Regulating the Future

Whether you are considering an LLM in International Law or another degree in the field of Law there has never been a better time to make those first steps on the path that could open up a number of career opportunities in an incredibly diverse industry.

At the University of Bolton, we offer a range of Law degrees that will help you gain the knowledge and expertise that will help you on your chosen career path. With a great campus, close to the city of Manchester, a commitment to quality education and a supportive community that could see them go far in their chosen career path, there’s plenty to tempt students to begin planning for their International Law degree careers with us.

The University of Bolton has been voted in the Top 15 in the UK for 'Satisfied With Teaching' for the second year running *. Our community is diverse, welcoming and inclusive, allowing every student to experience #UniAsItShouldBe.

If you would like to learn more about the university or our law courses, we would welcome the opportunity to talk to you. Our team of friendly advisors can be contacted via email at enquiries@bolton.ac.uk, or at +44 (0)1204 900 600. Please see our available courses. 

*The Guardian University Guide - 2022, 2021

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