Outer Space Treaty

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In essence, the Treaty of 1967 defined the essential structures of global space law. As of January 2017, the treaty had been ratified by 105 nations and bars countries from setting deadly weapons on the moon, in Earth's orbit, or any celestial body. It additionally bans countries from building military installations or testing nuclear weapon on celestial bodies. These principles serve to make sure that space exploration is free, fair, and performed in light of a legitimate concern for all mankind. The treaty was the second of the purported "nonarmament"settlements; its ideas and many of its arrangements were sculpted on the Antarctic Treaty, its predecessor. Similarly, it aimed to avert what was referred to as a new phase of colonial rivalry and the conceivable harm that individualist use may bring.

By1957, before the start of Sputnik, developments in rocketry drove the US to recommend a global certification of the testing of space objects. The establishment of a verification framework for outer space was a piece of a Western proposition for fractional nuclear disarmament set in 1957 (Baratto, 2017). The Soviet Union which was in the process of testing its ICBM, one of its first, and was going to orbit its first satellite on Earth did not acknowledge these proposition.

From 1959 to 1962, Western forces created a progression of recommendations to prevent the exploration of outer space for military reasons. These planed complete and general nuclear disarmament including provisions to prohibit the stationing and orbiting of nuclear weapons and other deadly weapons in the outer space (Baczyńska-Wilkowska, 2017). President Eisenhower while speaking to the General Assembly in 1960 recommended that the doctrines of the Antarctic Treaty should be used on celestial bodies and outer space.

The general and complete disarmament plans of the Soviets from 1960 to 1962 included arrangements to ensure the exploration of outer space in a peaceful way (Chung, 2017). The Soviets would not however separate outer space from other demilitarization issues, nor would it consent to limit outer space to serene use until the United States overseas bases from where both medium and short range rockets were positioned were similarly disposed.

Consequently, the United States declined to acknowledge the Soviet strategy; they held that the linkage would agitate the military balance and threatens the western security. Following signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, Soviet changed their position. The soviets stopped linking outer space agreement with the subject of overseas bases (Johnson, 2018). The Soviet Union’s Foreign Minister Gromyko on September 19, 1963 told the General Assembly they desired to establish a settlement forbidding the orbiting of nuclear carrying objects. The United States on the other hand stated that it had no intent to orbit nuclear weapons, stationing them outer space or installing them on cosmic bodies (Baczyńska-Wilkowska, 2017). The Assembly adopted the a resolution unanimously on October 17, 1963, acknowledging the United States and the Soviet statements and asking nations to cease from installing nuclear weapons into celestial bodies and outer space.

The US bolstered the resolution, in spite of the lack of any verification plan; the abilities of its space-tracking framework were estimated to be satisfactory for sensing launchings and objects in the orbit (Baczyńska-Wilkowska, 2017). Aiming to weather the motion for agreements on arms control, the US from 1965 to 1966 sought for a settlement that would provide further substance to the resolutions of the United Nations.

On June 1966, the Soviet Union and U.S. submitted their respective draft treaties. The draft submitted by the United States only addressed celestial bodies while that of the Soviet Union secured the entire outer space setting. The U.S. acknowledged the Soviet position on the extent of the Treaty, and by September understanding had been reached in Geneva on most of the arrangements of the treaty (Johnson, 2018). Variances on the few outstanding issues - mostly including access to services on celestial bodies, use of military personnel and equipment in exploration, and the reporting on space activities were settled in private conferences by December amid the sessions of the General Assembly.

On the nineteenth of December, the Assembly endorsed a resolution extolling the Outer Space Treaty. On January 27, 1967, this treaty would be opened for signing in London, Washington and Moscow ("Treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies (Outer Space Treaty),"2015). The Treaty come into action after a unanimous consent and its ratification.

                                                Provisions of the treaty 

After the Treaty became operational, the U.S. and the Soviets jointly collaborated to plan and manage the space initiatives. This treaty was to a great extent in light of the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of countries which had been embraced in 1963 by the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, however included a few new arrangements (Baratto, 2017). It was signed by the three Governments (the U.S. of America, Russian Federation and the UK) in January 1967. The treaty established the essential system on global space law, which included the following concepts:

The content of the arms control arrangements is in its Article IV which limits activities in two different ways. Primarily, it comprises of a mission not to put in orbit around the Earth, introduce on the moon or some other cosmic body, or otherwise station in outer space, atomic or some other weapons (Chung, 2017). Secondly, it limited the exploration of the celestial bodies and the moon only to peaceful reasons and explicitly bars their application for creating military installations, fortifications, or installation; testing of any weapons; or performing military exercises.

                                    Implications of the treaty today

The treaty has been admirably functional until now, however, challenges have progressively begun to manifest. Similar to all global law, The Outer Space Treaty is in fact binding to the member nations who joined (Johnson, 2018). Nevertheless, the conspicuous absence of "space police"implies that this treaty cannot be essentially implemented. Thus, a nation, person or an organization could basically overlook it whenever they wish. The consequences for non-compliance could involve sanctions, but rather primarily an absence of respect and illegitimacy which is of significance in the global setting.

Despite the fact that there are numerous points to contemplate in the Outer Space Treaty, a standout amongst the most critical is that this treaty is to be utilized for peaceful reasons. Nuclear weapons and other deadly weapons can never be utilized in space ("Treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies (Outer Space Treaty),"2015). Another important point is that celestial space, for example, Mars or the moon, is not liable to national appropriation. This basically mean that no nation can claim ownership to any of them.

These concepts have been liable to contests subsequent to The Outer Treaty becoming an integral factor, the first case of such a test was the 1976 Bogota Declaration. Eight nations jointly attempted to lay claim of ownership of portion of the orbit in the space positioned over their territories (Baczyńska-Wilkowska, 2017). This was based on the concept that if their border were projected into the sky, any satellite which is stationary there would dependably be inside their boundaries.

These countries asserted that this space does not fall under the meaning of "outer space"and consequently was their territory’s "natural resource."The assertion was not perceived as any endeavor aimed at undermining The Outer Space Treaty, instead it was seen to state that orbits that circumvent the equator, or toward the Earths direction of rotation, have to be claimed by that nations below it (Johnson, 2018). Conversely, this idea was inevitably dispelled by the global community.

Consequently, China was alleged to have breached the settlement in 2007 when it brought down its own weather satellite. The move was viewed by Japan as being aggressive, however, because this weather satellite did not fall within the meaning of "weapons of mass destruction,"and thus it was discovered that this did not breach the Outer Space Treaty (Baratto, 2017). Nonetheless, there was worldwide uproar on account of the wreckage it left in space.


The Outer Space Treaty regulates a wide scope of issues pertinent to the use and exploration of celestial bodies and outer space, which includes the preclusion of subjecting them to national appropriation by sovereignty claims and the responsibility to provide any conceivable aid to space explorers, the agents of humanity in outer space. However, there is no broad, express ban on the militarization of space, aside from the proscription of nuclear weapons or other deadly weapons and the explorations of the celestial bodies and the Moon for only peaceful reasons.


Baczyńska-Wilkowska, M. (2017). Outer Space Treaty During Fourth Industrial Revolution. A Fresh View on the Outer Space Treaty, 67-73. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-70434-0_7

Baratto, E. B. (2017). Peacekeeping Operations in Outer Space: Contradictions in Article IV of the Outer Space Treaty. A Fresh View on the Outer Space Treaty, 39-47. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-70434-0_4

Chung, G. (2017). Emergence of Environmental Protection Clauses in Outer Space Treaty: A Lesson from the Rio Principles. A Fresh View on the Outer Space Treaty, 1-13. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-70434-0_1

Johnson, C. D. (2018). The Outer Space Treaty. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Planetary Science. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190647926.013.43

Treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies (Outer Space Treaty). (2015). Disarmament and Related Treaties, 727-738. doi:10.18356/a4f7bfd7-en

November 24, 2023



Astronomy Space

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Space Exploration

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