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Title: Natural resources in outer space and on celestial bodies: a critical appraisal of the fundamentals of international space law in the light of modern spacefaring
Other Titles: Natuurlijke rijkdommen in de kosmische ruimte en op hemellichamen: een kritieke beoordeling van de basisbeginselen van internationaal ruimterecht gelet op de moderne ruimtevaart
Authors: De Man, Philip
Issue Date: 8-Jun-2015
Abstract: The thesis researches the interpretation of the basic principles of international space law as they relate and apply to the activity of the exploitation of the natural resources in space, both of outer space sensu stricto and of celestial bodies. In so doing, it focuses on the non-appropriation principle of Article II of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and its alleged incompatibility with the exploitation of celestial bodies. The thesis analyses the predominant view in space law doctrine that a creative interpretation of the main principles of the Outer Space Treaty is necessary in order to meet the proclaimed need of legal certainty through the establishment of a system of property rights over resources from celestial bodies. The suggested solution prevailing in legal scholarship necessitates a strict distinction between areas and resources in outer space, and between the material resources from celestial bodies and the immaterial resources of space sensu stricto, so as to exclude the material resources from celestial bodies from the physical scope of application of Article II.

On the basis of a thorough analysis of the concepts of celestial bodies and natural resources as employed in the outer space treaties, the thesis argues against the predominant scholarly approach as being ill-founded and impractical. Alternatively, the thesis paves the way for an approach that does not depend on capricious exceptions to the scope of the non-appropriation principle but rather on a clear delineation between the activities of lawful exploitation and unlawful appropriation. It does so by illuminating the basic principles of international space law as they relate to the use of orbital positions by satellites, regulated by the International Telecommunication Union, and extrapolating these findings to the material resources of celestial bodies. In so doing, an alternative understanding of the legal limits of lawful resource exploitation is developed that precludes the need for a strict property regime in outer space, and, thereby, the problematic interpretation of the scope of application of the non-appropriation principle.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies
Institute for International Law

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