As space exploration is gathering pace, special care must be attributed to preserving outer space as a shared environment that can be explored freely by humankind. Currently, there exists no comprehensive legal framework regulating the use of conventional weapons in outer space. This has been made evident by repeated tests of anti-satellite weapons (ASATs) which took place in the XXI century and produced massive amounts of debris, possibly interfering with the rights of other states to explore space freely. This article examines the rules provided by the UN Liability Convention and their application to ASAT tests in outer space. The author reviews academic suggestions in the field and concludes that a multilateral and comprehensive legal framework needs to be established in order to guarantee unrestrained exploration of space.
ASAT ; conventional weapons ; liability convention ; outer space
Anantatmula V., U.S. Initiative to Place Weapons in Space: The Catalyst for a Space-Based Arms Race with China and Russia, ‘Astropolitics: The International Journal of Space Politics & Policy’ 2013, vol. 11, no. 3
Johnson N. L. et al., History of On-orbit Satellite Fragmentations, 14th edition, NASA: Orbital Debris Program Office 2008
Bowen B.E., Cascading Crises: Orbital Debris and the Widening of Space Security, ‘Astropolitics: The International Journal of Space Politics & Policy’ 2014, vol. 12, no. 1
Chatterjee P., Legality of Anti-Satellites under the Space Law Regime, ‘Astropolitics: the International Journal of Space Politics and Policy’ 2014, vol. 12, no. 1
Diederiks-Verschoor I.H.Ph. & Kopal V., An Introduction to Space Law, 3rd revised edition, Kluwer Law International 2008.
Hebert K.D., Regulation of Space Weapons: Ensuring Stability and Continued Use of Outer Space, ‘Astropolitics: the International Journal of Space Politics and Policy’ 2014, vol. 12, no. 1
Imburgia J.S., Space Debris and its Threat to National Security: A Proposal for a Binding International Agreement to Clean Up the Junk, ‘Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law’ 2011, vol. 44.
Koplow D.A., ASAT-isfaction: Customary International Law and the Regulation of Anti-Satellite Weapons, ‘Michigan Journal of International Law’ 2009, vol. 30, no. 4.
Lele A., Security Connotations of Space Tourism, ‘Astropolitics: the International Journal of Space Politics and Policy’ 2013, vol. 11, no. 3.
Lyall F. & Larsen P. B., Space law; a treatise, Ashgate Publishing 2013.
Mineiro M., FY-1C and USA-193 ASAT intercepts: an assessment of legal obligations under article IX of the Outer Space Treaty, ‘Journal of Space Law’ 2008, vol. 34, no. 2
NASA, New Debris Seen from Decommissioned Satellite with Nuclear Power Source, ‘Orbital Debris Quarterly News’ 2019, vol. 13, no. 1
Oppenheim J., Danger at 700,000 Feet: Why the United States Needs to Develop a Kinetic Anti-Satellite Missile Technology Test-Ban Treaty, ‘Brooklyn Journal of International Law’ 2012, vol. 38, no. 2.
Saunders P.C. & Lutes Ch.D., China’s ASAT Test Motivations and Implications, ‘Joint Force Quarterly’ 2007, vol. 46, 3rd quarter
Su J., The environmental dimension of space arms control, ‘Space Policy’ 2013, vol. 29, no. 1
Tellis A.J., China’s Military Space Strategy, ‘Survival: Global Politics and Strategy’ 2007, vol. 49, no. 3
Trepczynski S., The Effect of the Liability Convention on National Space Legislation, ‘Journal of Space Law’ 2007, vol. 33.
Weeden B., Anti-Satellite Tests in Space – the Case of China, Secure World Foundation 2013
Weeden B., Through a Glass, Darkly: Chinese, American and Russian Anti-Satellite Testing in Space, Secure World Foundation 2014.
Bio Statement (e.g., department and rank)
Ph.D. candidate in International Law at the Graduate Institute (IHEID) in Geneva.
He holds a Master’s degree in International Public Management from Sciences Po (IEP)
Paris and an LLB in European Law from Maastricht University.