International Space Law – A Quick Overview

The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is the forum for the development of international space law. The Committee has concluded five international treaties and five sets of principles on space-related activities. These five treaties deal with issues such as the non-appropriation of outer space by any one country, arms control, the freedom of exploration, liability for damage caused by space objects, the safety and rescue of spacecraft and astronauts, the prevention of harmful interference with space activities and the environment, the notification and registration of space activities, scientific investigation and the exploitation of natural resources in outer space and the settlement of disputes. Each of the treaties stresses the notion that outer space, the activities carried out in outer space and whatever benefits might be accrued from outer space should be devoted to enhancing the well-being of all countries and humankind, with an emphasis on promoting international cooperation.


The treaties commonly referred to as the “five United Nations treaties on outer space” are:


The five declarations and legal principles are:

  • The “Declaration of Legal Principles”
  • The “Broadcasting Principles”
    • The Principles Governing the Use by States of Artificial Earth Satellites for International Direct Television Broadcasting General Assembly resolution 37/92 of 10 December 1982
  • The “Remote Sensing Principles”
  • The “Nuclear Power Sources” Principles
  • The “Benefits Declaration”
    • The Declaration on International Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for the Benefit and in the Interest of All States, Taking into Particular Account the Needs of Developing Countries General Assembly resolution 51/122 of 13 December 1996

Source: United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs