The Laws of War in Outer Space

Steven R. Freeland, Elise Gruttner

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


With the development of technology accelerating at a rapid pace, there has not been a more crucial time to analyze the international legal framework of outer space. The use of outer space for armed conflict is now a reality for space-faring nations and, as such, attention needs to be placed on the legal implications of this modern (potential) theatre of warfare. The applicability of international law to outer space was confirmed in the United Nations Outer Space Treaty that applies to the use and exploration of outer space. With new technologies such as dual-use satellites emerging, complex international law issues relating to the use of force and understanding how and to what extent the international law principles of jus in bello – international humanitarian law – apply to the regulation of these outer space activities. This chapter examines the evolution of outer space technology and the relevant legal frameworks that exist, and looks at certain aspects of the jus in bello principles that relate to the use of outer space. Some legal principles that exist in international humanitarian law may apply to activities in outer space; however, it remains unclear whether these principles are specific enough to take into account the increasingly diverse ways in which outer space could be utilized during the course of armed conflict. Consequently, there is a growing need for clarity in this evolving field of law, particularly as it relates to armed conflict in outer space.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Space Security: Policies, Applications and Programs
EditorsKai-Uwe Schrogl
Place of PublicationCham
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-22786-9
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


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