“Lawst in Space”
The concept of space law, an aspect of international law, began with United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower's introduction of the idea into the United Nations in 1957, in connection with disarmament negotiations. The United Nations General Assembly assumed responsibility for all outer space matters and discharged it primarily through its Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). It was established in 1958, shortly after the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to be put into outer space by the Soviet Union, as an ad hoc committee. In 1959 it was formally established by United Nations resolution 1472 (XIV). At that time the Committee had 24 members. Since then it has grown to 69 members and is one of the largest Committees in the United Nations. The mission of COPUOS is "to review the scope of international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, to devise programs in this field to be undertaken under United Nations auspices, to encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters, and to study legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space." The boundary between airspace, the air over each national territory which is subject to that country’s sovereign control, and outer space remains open to debate. Some favor definitions based on the composition of the atmosphere. Others favor a functional approach; if commercial airlines use a particular layer of the atmosphere, it should be considered airspace. The current international legal rules on outer space rest on five treaties. They are the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including Other Celestial Bodies (Outer Space Treaty of 1967), the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (Rescue Agreement), the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Moon Treaty of 1979), the 1972 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (Liability Convention) and the 1975 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (Registration Convention). Each of these treaties underlines the notion that the domain of outer space, the activities carried out therein and whatever benefit might accrue as a result should be devoted to enhancing the well-being of all countries and humankind, and each includes elements elaborating the idea of promoting international cooperation in outer space activities.
The Outer Space Treaty was considered by the Legal Subcommittee in 1966 and agreement was reached in the General Assembly in the same year thru resolution 2222 (XXI). The Treaty was largely based on the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, which had been adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 1962 (XVIII) in 1963, but added a few new provisions. The Treaty was opened for signature by the three depository Governments, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, in January 1967, and it entered into force in October 1967. As of January 1, 2008, 98 States, including the United States and all the other major spacefaring countries, had ratified and an additional 27 had signed the Outer Space Treaty.
The Outer Space Treaty provides the basic framework on international space law, including the following principles: •
the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind •
outer pace shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodes •
outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means •
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