How many countries have space laws?

Space activities are governed by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which is currently ratified by 111 countries. There are five international treaties that support space law, supervised by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS). They point to the McGill Manual, written by institutions around the world, which describes 52 rules that clarify space laws. The IISL also sponsors the annual Manfred Lachs simulated space court competition, with five regional rounds (North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America) followed by semifinals and finals, along with the annual IISL colloquium.

This collection of laws and regulations relating to the exploration and use of outer space is based on communications submitted by States. This will avoid miscalculations and misunderstandings and, in turn, will promote transparency, confidence-building and certain cooperation in space. Space law is codified in several laws, starting with the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (NASA Act), enacted on July 29, 1958.The rules clarify international law applicable to all space activities carried out in times of peace and in times of tension that pose challenges to peace. The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the “Outer Space Treaty”), entered into force on October 10, 1967.With the increase in the number of commercial and private space operators, countries are adopting national space laws to regulate and supervise the manner in which all national space activities are carried out in accordance with international law.

The experts emphasized that the right to self-defense in relation to military space activities must take into account the unique legal and physical aspects of outer space. Five international treaties and five “declarations” and legal principles were developed through the United Nations (UN), which maintains an Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in Vienna (Austria). Kuan-Wei Chen, executive director of the Center for Air and Space Law Research at McGill University; Bayar Goswami, Arsenault PhD fellow at the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University; Ram S. Agreement on the rescue of astronauts, the return of astronauts and the return of objects launched into space (the “Astronaut Rescue and Return Agreement”).

Jeannie Eschenbrenner
Jeannie Eschenbrenner

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