Has the outer space treaty been violated?

However, it is interesting that, throughout its 50 years of existence, the treaty has never really been violated. While many practical challenges have been posed, they have always been posed with parts of the treaty in mind, rather than trying to completely undermine it. So, are agreements a clear violation of international law? Not necessarily. Its stated purpose “is to establish a common vision through a practical set of principles, guidelines and best practices.

In other words, they do not claim to be the basis of a new law and, therefore, strictly speaking, they cannot violate existing international law. Therefore, they create guidelines in the hope that they will eventually become customary law that will weaken existing space law. Article IV of the OST requires that only the “Moon and other celestial bodies” be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. This indicates that the norm of peaceful use applies strictly to heavenly bodies.

The only activities expressly prohibited in the rest of outer space are the placing in orbit around the Earth any object carrying nuclear weapons or any other type of weapons of mass destruction, or the placement of such weapons. As a result of this omission, the United States had to establish that the treaty did not prohibit the inspection of spacecraft for the purpose of verifying compliance with the treaty. Although countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom have joined, space powers such as China, India and Russia have not. The United States and the USSR had already publicly declared their intention not to place nuclear weapons in space, on the Moon, or other celestial bodies in 1963 through UN Resolution 1884, but because the 1963 declaration was not legally binding, the United States was not required to verify that the USSR was complying with the agreement.

An alternative might be to focus on developing norms of behavior in outer space, but standards alone are unlikely to be sufficient. The inability of the UNGGE to reach consensus and produce a final report at its last session demonstrates the enormous difficulties in space governance and the lack of consensus among major Powers on the definition of vital concepts of space security, including what is a space weapon, what constitutes a weapon space attack in outer space and the application of the right to self-defense. The U.S. State Department condemned the development of Russia's new weapons systems as violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but did not allege a violation of Article IV of the UN 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST).

Under the innocuous title “Deconflict of space activities”, it states that countries subject to the agreements will support the development of safety zones, for example, around a lunar base or where mining activities are carried out. NASA guidelines in the Artemis Accords supposedly designed to regulate global cooperation on the Moon may serve to circumvent pre-existing international treaties. First, article IV of the TMB should be expanded to include conventional weapons and other technologies other than WMD, including antisatellite, terrestrial weapons and other antispace systems. Space Force, a discrete geographical combat command and the sixth branch of the United States military.

This group of international experts could be mandated to review the universal challenges faced by all States, including space debris, the arms race in outer space and antispace capabilities, and produce a final document that could be submitted to the Secretary-General of the Nations United. The TMB and four subsidiary legal instruments, including the 1968 Rescue Agreement, the 1972 Space Liability Convention, the 1976 Registration Convention and the 1979 Moon Agreement, have largely maintained the inviolability of outer space. Driven by shifts in regional and global balances of power, growing competition driven by space security has forced many states to develop antispace capabilities that can be used to disrupt, deny, or destroy space systems. The proposal, “Reduction of space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behavior”, aims to analyze the challenges of space security with a bottom-up approach.

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