The Hague Academy of International Law

Programme of the Centre

2017 Programme

Fifty Years of Space Law– Space Law in 50 Years

21 August - 8 September 2017


Directors of Research:

English-speaking section:
Stephan HOBE, Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law, University of Cologne

French-speaking section:
Philippe ACHILLEAS, Director of the Institute of Space and Telecommunications Law, University Paris-Sud



50 Years of Space Law – Space Law in 50 Years

For the first time in its history young scholars will be assembled at The Hague Academy of International Law in order to discuss and edit a book on space law. The reason for this is the 50th anniversary of the basic treaty on human activities in outer space, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. This treaty was adopted in January 1967 and entered into force that same year, only one decade after the beginning of the modern space age through the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik 1 on 4 October 1957, and a few years after the agreement reached by the international community on a “Declaration of general principles on human activities in outer space” in 1963. As is well known, thereafter a Rescue Agreement was adopted in 1968, the Liability Convention was adopted in 1972, the Registration Convention in 1975 and finally the Moon Agreement in 1979. No subsequent international convention could be concluded since then, the international community having been unable to agree on new binding texts. But a number of UNGA resolutions have been adopted starting with the resolution of 1982 on direct television broadcasting and ending in 2013 with a resolution on national space legislation.

The present topic will be tackled from two angles: in the first part the current lex lata will be described, first of all from the perspective of basic concepts and secondly from the perspective of specific forms of application/as applicable to space activities. This first part shall make evident the development that international space law has gone through up to 2017.

The second part of the contribution shall underline how the rules applicable to human activities in outer space could develop in the coming 50 years. As can already be seen, or surely expected, mega constellations and micro satellites, suborbital flights and space tourism, discovery of life in outer space as well as colonization of outer space and, not the least, exploitation of resources on celestial bodies, will be at the forefront of the interest and thus in need of legal regulation.

Moreover, and closely associated to these activities will be issues like the protection of the space environment, space traffic management, as well as the future of international and regional cooperation, particularly from a European angle, and, with respect to growing commercial activities, the development of international private space law. This shall finally allow for a conclusion on how much the law of outer space will adapt to these new usages and where it will stand in 2067.

The 2017 edition also proposes an original and rare method of research in law, namely the long-term prospective aspect (the law in half a century). Since space projects are programmed for a long time before they are realized, it is already possible to define legal trends which will develop their full potential in future decades.


Part I – 1967 – 2017: The 50 years of space law

The Basics of International Space Law

1. The sources of international space law

2. Definition and delimitation of outer space

3. Star wars? A realistic perspective?

4. International responsibility and liability of states in the conduct of space activities

5. The law of outer space: a “self-contained regime”?


International Space Law for the Utilization of Outer Space

6. The law on telecommunications by satellite

7. Satellites in the service of global communication

8. Remote sensing by satellite

9. Navigation by satellite

10. Outer space and developing countries

11. The exploration of the universe


Part II - 2017 – 2067: Space law in 50 years

The legal frame for space programmes of tomorrow

12. Regulation of microsatellites and mega-constellations

13. Legal regime for suborbital flights

14. Legal regime for space touristic activities

15. The exploitation of natural resources on celestial bodies

16. The discovery of life in outer space

17. The colonization of outer space


The major new legal perspectives associated with tomorrow’s space activities

18. Protection of the space environment – a truly global concern?

19. Space traffic management – a new perspective for space law?

20. The future of international and regional space cooperation

21. European space cooperation: a model for international space cooperation?

22. Development of a new body of private international space law?

23. The adaptation of space law to new challenges as of 2067

24. An international space agency as administrator of the “international common” outer space?