Promoting peace from above? : utilising space for the prevention and prosecution of human rights violations

Steven R. Freeland, Ram S. Jakhu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionResearchpeer-review


The promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies is one important component upon which the UN 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals is founded, specifically SDG 16. Armed conflicts, military activities and the perpetration of acts constituting gross violations of human rights represent significant
impediments towards the eradication of poverty, the provision for better health, gender equality, economic growth and equality, in addition to the human and environmental costs that they bring. We are witnessing an increasing number of conflict situations, many of which involve crimes that ‘deeply shock the conscience of
humanity’. A number of mechanisms of international criminal justice, established with the goal of ‘ending impunity’, now operate to prosecute those responsible for these acts, and to deter others from committing them in the future. Given the complexity of the trials before these courts and tribunals, the utilisation of satellite Earth observation imagery represents a vital tool to help these mechanisms as far as possible achieve
these laudable aims. However, both the law and ethical guidelines concerning the veracity, admissibility and use of such images as credible evidence are in only a gradual state of development, compounding the complexity of their use as evidence in both legal proceedings and in the public sphere. This paper seeks to
discuss the legal issues associated with the use – both at present and into the near future – of space infrastructure to promote the peacemaking and peace-restoring functions of international courts and tribunals. It will start with a brief description of the means and challenges in satellite evidence gathering and
will offer some thoughts as to further areas worthy of detailed research with respect to this important role that space can play in the furtherance of the UN 2030 Agenda.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Space Governance and the UN 2030 Agenda
EditorsA. D. Kerkonian
Place of PublicationMontreal, Quebec, Canada
PublisherMcGill University, Centre for Research in Air and Space Law
ISBN (Print)978-0-7717-0736-0
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Promoting peace from above? : utilising space for the prevention and prosecution of human rights violations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this