State Responsibility and Commercial Space Activities

Danielle Ireland-Piper, Makaela Fehlhaber, Alana Bonenfant

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Commercial activity in outer space has increased. However, space is a dual-use environment, with both military and civilian applications. This raises the important question as to the extent to which a nation-state is responsible for the actions of commercial activities undertaken by corporate entities. The international law principles of state responsibility are complex. However, in some circumstances, these principles do create that potential for states to be liable where, for example, a corporate entity is a de facto organ of the state, or where a corporation acts on the instructions of a state or is under its control. The United Nations Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, or Outer Space Treaty, provides some guidance on this question. Notwithstanding that, this is an uncertain area of the law, not least because of the complexity of space as an operating environment and complications in determining corporate nationality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford research encyclopedia of planetary science
EditorsPeter L Read
ISBN (Electronic)9780190647926, 0190647922
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2023

Publication series

NameOxford Research Encyclopedias


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