by Michael Dodge with the blog faculty
An early space law document concerning the structure of the legal regime in outer space has been discovered in the Haley Archive. The document is titled Resolution Concerning the Legal Regime of Outer Space Adopted Unanimously on 11 September 1963, and was the product of The Institute of International Law (Institut de Droit International) in Brussels during September, 1963. Drafted in both French and English, the document describes a number of principles that the Institute believed should be incorporated into a future treaty or declaration governing the legal regime of outer space, and many of its provisions draw parallels to articles found in some of the United Nations Treaties and Principles on Outer Space. The Resolution came after the passage of the United Nations Resolution 1962 (XVIII), known as the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, but it preceded the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, which entered into force in October of 1967.
The document is divided into fifteen principles. Notable examples include:
Principle 1 notes that “outer space and the celestial bodies are not subject to any kind of appropriation, they are free for exploration and use by all states for exclusively peaceful purposes. . . ”, utilizing similar language as that of Outer Space Treaty’s Article I.
Principles 3 and 5 concern registrations and jurisdiction, with Principle 3 noting that “every launching of a space object shall be registered by the State under the authority of which the launching took place” and Principle 5 noting that “every space object . . . shall remain subject to the jurisdiction of the State under the authority of which it was launched”. The essence of these Principles was incorporated into OST Article VIII.
Principle 8 notes that “States shall take appropriate measures for: a) mutual assistance among astronauts; b) mutual assistance among States on behalf of astronauts in need of assistance; c) prompt repatriation of astronauts after any emergency landing or rescue”. These concerns were addressed both by the OST Article V and the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space.
Finally, Principle 13 notes that “the State under the authority of which the launching of a space object has taken place shall be liable, irrespective of fault, for any injury, including loss of life, or damage that may result”, echoing the sentiments of the OST Article VII.