Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Law of Neutrality in Outer Space

Robert Jarman
McGill University, Montreal
Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC)

Satellite telecommunications, global navigation and remote sensing systems are key drivers in the ongoing transformation of an industrial based global economic order to one increasingly dominated by information services.

A growing number of States are establishing an independent presence in outer space and all States (and indeed, individuals) can access a broad range of affordable space-related products and services (e.g., Google Earth imagery, PSreceivers, and global voice and data transmissions). Consistent with broad historical trends, these technologies are inevitably influencing the way States think about, plan for, and conduct warfare.

Inspired by the prospect of seizing the ultimate "high ground" of outer space and achieving "information superiority" over an enemy, militaries around the world are rapidly pursuing independent space capabilities and adapting their strategies, doctrine and force structures to reflect these capabilities. These trends have prompted various political and legal efforts to ban the placement and/or use of weapons in outer space.

As these efforts have failed to gain traction and seem unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future, this thesis argues that existing bodies of international law grounded in a pragmatic acceptance of armed conflict must be consulted if humankind wishes to mitigate the impact and spread of warfare conducted in, from and through outer space. In particular, this thesis examines how the traditional customary principles underlying the law of neutrality may be reconceptualized by States to serve as a mechanism to mediate competing claims of belligerents and neutrals during armed conflict in outer space.

After a brief introduction, Chapters One and Two will develop the economic and military trends discussed above. Chapter Three will provide an overview of the relevant international law governing military activities in outer space. Chapter four will analyze the law governing State responsibility for Outer Space.
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