The laws of war in outer space

Steven Freeland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The international regulation of outer space is“embedded” in international law. It is not an esoteric and separate paradigm. Indeed, the main United NationsSpace Treaty, the Outer Space Treaty, expressly confirmsthat the principles of international lawapply to the use and exploration of outer space.Given the development of technology, outer space is more frequently being used during the course of armed conflict, particularly through the use of sophisticated satellite technology, notwithstanding the“peaceful purposes” provisions of thatTreaty. Not only does this give rise to difficult international law issues relating to the use of force, but it also requires an understanding of howand towhat extent the international lawprinciples of jus in bello - international humanitarian law-apply to the conductofthese outer space activities. The position is complicated further by the growing number of“dual use” satellites that simultaneously provide capacity to both commercial/ civilian users and the military. This chapter examines a number of specific aspects of the jus inbello principles as they relate to the use of outer space, as well asmore recent initiatives aimed at attempting to provide further clarity to the applicable rules. Although international humanitarian law does applyto activities in outer space, the existing principles may not be specific enough to provide appropriate regulation for the increasingly diverse ways in which outer space could be used during the course of armed conflict.Thereis therefore a growing need to reach a consensus on additional legal regulation directly applicable tothe conduct of armed conflict that may involve the use of spacetechnology.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Space Security
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781461420293
ISBN (Print)9781461420286
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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