This article is written by Mohammad Nazim, a student of B.A. LL.B (Hons.) at Jamia millia Islamia.



New technology always considered boon for human life for development. With the new technology which discovered for its better version of itself day after day, is become boon for mankind because human very intelligently develop rules and laws which restrict that technology to cross its limit and restrict it to be curse for mankind. Today Outer space not only the important resource in term of development but also it is important for sustainable development.This article primerly talk about obligation and legislation under the space law and treaties for peaceful use of outer space for sustainable development. 


“science has not yet mastered prophesy. We predict too much for next year and yet far too little for next ten”

        -Neil Armstrong

63 years before since Sputnik-I launch on October 4, 1957 into the space that was 1st ever remark for human into the space. After that in 1961 Yuri Gagarin become first ever human being who travel into the space and after 8 year in 1969 Neil Armstrong become first ever man who put their feet on the surface of moon, before that it was only imagination. But our scientist does not stop here, they create a space station where human set record to stay more than 300 days. But as technology in outer space upgraded it should be more important to control it by making law on it.

The idea of space law first quoted by Belgian lawyer, Emile Launde  in 1910. He raise the question of radio wave regulation, he used space law as broader term. A. Zazar a soviet aviation minister present a paper in 1921 related to space law and democracy of a state on outer space. After Sputnik was launch various state wants their space law to fix their democracy in space. So that UN committee on ‘peaceful use of outer space’ (COPUOS) actively engage to make law related to space law.

State liability and obligation under space law

State which have tendencies to utilize outer space are bound by international law as no nation or state have sovereignity in outer space. All nation are abided by common space law and doing their work under this, even though a state is not a signatories of space treaty it does not escape that state liability under this law. The international court of justice in the North Sea Continental Shelf21 cases, adjudicated ‘a treaty rule becomes binding upon a third State as a customary rule of international law if it is generally recognized by concerned States as such’. This is so notwithstanding the well-recognized principle, as stated in Article 34 of the Convention, that ‘A treaty does not create either obligations or rights for a third State without its consent’. The Liability Convention bestows fundamentals regarding State Responsibilities pertaining to Space activities

State can be held liable under various forms of customary International Laws. Trial Smelter Arbitration observed, ‘A State owes at all times a duty to protect other States against injurious acts by individuals from within its jurisdiction’ . Article 1 of Outer Space Treaty says “The exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind”. Further States are expected to comply with UN charter as provided in Article III of Outer Space Treaty. States are abided by General Assembly Resolutions which are not codified as treaties. The Nations will be held liable for non compliance with international if it fails its obligations under various specialized UN Agencies relating to Outer Space and other multilateral Space Organizations. There are 17 such organizations.


Liability Convention dispute resolution by mode of commission. However, it does not mandate strict obligation on party but conversely it is upon the State parties to comply or not. This is another short coming of Liability convention. Under Customary International Law State Parties can apply for dispute resolution through arbitration or judiciary. States can file claims in International Court of Justice or they can claim under their National Courts. Disputes of commercial nature are mainly litigated at national courts of domestic jurisdiction. Further, disputes relating to space can be solved by diplomatic approach as observed in Cosmos-954 accident in which a Soviet Nuclear Satellite fell of its orbit and disintegrated over Canada where the matter was resolved without taking aid of any provision of Liability Convention. It is observed that most private companies prefer arbitration to settle their matters pertaining to Space Law as invoking provisions of Liability Convention only recognizes the disputes between nations. Efficient methods must be employed by parties as well as deciding authority to ensure quick reasonable dispute resolution.


Space has limitless implications. Space technology can be used to accomplish flawless connectivity, excellent GPS, efficient Disaster Management protocols, unlimited media channels etc. However, Space can also be used to cause annihilation beyond any imaginations. We have seen various weapons based on space technology sci-fi movies and games which can blow up an entire city. However, this concept of kinetic bombardment is not purely fiction. There is a great possibility that space can become the battlefield of modern warfare as General John E. Hyten said “We don’t ever want go to war in space but we need to be prepared to fight in that environment”. During cold war, space militarization was the top priority of both super powers. There are many restriction placed by UN to mitigate the risk of space arm race. Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water forbids any testing of weapon of mass destruction in Space and water. The Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty forbids the establishment of military faculties on Moon and in Earth’s orbit. Peaceful use of Outer Space is a firm requisition of sustainable development.

Outer space can be used for security purpose. Though Outer Space Treaty forbids a particular form of weaponries, it remains completely neutral regarding usage of conventional weapons. It must be noted that no state have any sovereign right over Outer Space and therefore no nation shall be allowed to place any weapon in Outer Space. The concepts of “Peaceful Purpose” appear every now and then in UN documents but still there is no comprehensive definition. It was then contended that peaceful means “non-aggressive”. Now if we see from this point of view then it simply seems that every single terrorist is “peaceful” till he is non-aggressive. UN restricts the usage of Outer Space for active militarization. The term confers about direct use of Space for military purpose. It includes most activities forbidden by various international instruments. Interference with state satellites is forbidden. Any intentional electronic interference with civilian satellites under ITU Radio Regulations is considered as an active hostile activity under International law. Passive use of Outer Space for military purpose signifies actions which are not prohibited by law. Passive use include development, testing and deployment of anti-satellite weapons, development, testing and deployment of space-based non-nuclear missile defense systems and their components; creation and deployment in outer space of means of optical jamming of space-, air- or ground-based technical assets. Maintaining Peace and establishing International co-operation is fundamental requirement for Sustainable development.

 Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. A Law must be the guardian of the social and economical system which environs us and at the same time it must see that generations to follow can enjoy the fruits of future. No civilization can flourish without good environment and therefore it is most essential to keep Outer Space clean. Outer Space has wide range of prospective. Prospective such as telecommunication and Remote Sensing is very essential. Advancing international cooperation in the peaceful uses of space science and technology and increasing the use of space-derived data and information are at the core of international efforts for harnessing the benefits of outer space for development.

Space technology can be efficiently used to mitigate outcome of natural disasters. Outer Space mainly works in 4 dimensions to support sustainable development this dimensions are (a) inclusive social development; (b) inclusive economic development; (c) environmental sustainability; and (d) peace and security. This focused approach is parallel with the principles of the Millennium Declaration. The information generated from space-derived technology can be utilized for a vast range of activities related to social development, from public health to human security and welfare, disaster management and humanitarian causes. As these activities require the active contribution and involvement of competent entities in member States, efforts are being made to promote the use of the space-derived data and information by Member States, on both a regional and an international scale. Satellite communications are used as infrastructure for telemedicine and tele-health services to improve access to such services and to develop the capacity of health-care professionals and workers through e-learning and access to knowledge. Effective disease surveillance systems for quic responses to disease are a core activity of WHO and its member States. Satellite communications are used in response to the drastic increase in international travel and trade, and the emergence and re-emergence of international disease threats and other health risks. In 2005, 194 countries agreed to implement the International Health Regulations. 

In terms of economical support Space Technology can provide assistance to farmers by precise weather forecast. Climate change and environmental degradation are primary threats in achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. To ensure environmental sustainability, United Nations assets utilized space-derived data to monitor processes and trends on a global scale for informed decision-making within their respective mandates, and jointly coordinate Earth observation through global climate, ocean and terrestrial observing systems. Furthermore, geospatial data and information is used for monitoring the implementation of eventual mitigation measures, supporting analysis of the impact of such measures and establishing scientifically justified strategies for future actions. Since 2013, as part of its efforts towards the employment of the regional cooperative mechanism for drought monitoring and early warning, ESCAP has conducted technical advisory services and a series of thematic and specialized training sessions in Mongolia and Sri Lanka. It will continue to enhance its efforts in other pilot countries, such as Cambodia, Mongolia, Myanmar and Nepal, as well as in other drought-prone countries, upon request. China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea have provided technical and financial support to the pilot projects. 

Sustainability of space object is very important for development program. Space debris is the worst of problems faced by space objects. Debris is generally of two kinds: 

1. From objects of space activities which remain in space. 

2. From collision of small celestial bodies in space. 

Debris has devastating impact on Satellites and Space Shuttles. Mitigating space debris is a state obligation. Destruction of any in orbit satellite will cause space debris. Such debris may collide with other satellite and thus it might set a chain of collision. State which are responsible for space debris will be liable for damages.


Space technologies led the world because of its fast track development. The laws related space are empirical and have some loop hole so that state should itself took the initiative to make laws for its territory. India that is 4th most power full country in space doesn`t have any solid space law which govern subject related to space. It is even more important to fix all loop hole by making domestic law because privatization in space law take place very speedly and for private body one`s never believe that without proper law in what extent they should harm outer space.