Posts Tagged international law
For many, space is the final, and most exciting, frontier. From a legal standpoint, where that frontier actually begins is frustratingly hazy. As commercial entities and private citizens begin frequently visiting and operating in space, this legal haze threatens to spill over into the mainstream and constrain growth of the new space-based industries. Fortunately, there are at least three approaches to clarifying the legal definition of the edge of space!
Stephen Murphey and I have put together the above video discussing where space begins. The video details the three approaches taken in attempting to create an international (or national) definition of where space begins. The three approaches are: physical, functional, and definition by fiat. The physical approach is the most widely used in the popular press, but unfortunately, FOX and CNN are not government lawmakers! Read the rest of this entry »
In part 1 of Property Rights in Space, the need for a system of recognition and enforcement of private property claims for land and tangible goods was established. An overview of how property rights on earth are defended and enforced was also examined. I suggest that the earth-side model of enforcing property rights in land and in tangible goods via monetary punishments should be adapted for violations of property rights in space. In the near term, private ownership of land on other celestial bodies and goods derived from space-based activities (e.g., space mining) can be protected via fines and seizure of improperly procured goods once they reach earth. No polar orbit-based beat cops or other space police required!
Although international treaty has long been the primary tool for shaping legal relationships in space, I believe that the United States has the opportunity to unilaterally create a system of recognition and enforcement of private land claims in space and tangible goods derived from space-based activities, like lunar mining, asteroid mining, and space-based manufacturing because of the United States’ status as the largest consumer market in the world and its preeminence in commercial spaceflight activities.
On the soccer field, it is not always entirely clear what behaviors a good sportsman should take, no matter how earnestly one pursues such laudable behavior. In some instances, rules guide players to sportsman-like behaviors. For example, it is considered unsportsman-like for the offense to cherry pick or to grossly outnumber the defense; therefore soccer’s offside rule was created. But this rule codifies only a narrow aspect of the custom of good sportsmanship in the beautiful game, leaving other aspects of sportsmanship defined by player custom.
In much the same way the offside rule was eventually created to explicitly direct soccer players toward fair behavior on the soccer field, international treaties like the Geneva Conventions are often created to delineate proper behavior from improper/war-like/criminal behavior throughout the world. Despite customs of humane treatment of others during war and traditions of good sportsmanship on the soccer field, neither the soccer community nor the international community have been able to put in writing and agree to a complete set of behaviors which proscribe the proper humane or sportsman-like action to take in every situation. In many areas, unwritten international custom defines the legality of an action. Lack of consensus or consistency of behavior can make it difficult to properly define customary international law.
When it comes to emerging industries like extraterrestrial resource mining, customary international law can seem like attempting to herd cats in zero gravity. Pinning down what is “fair” and “customary” in areas where no man has gone before can seem daunting but it also presents the unique opportunity to shape international custom by establishing them.