Outer Space Treaty
|Signed||27 January 1967|
|Location||London, Moscow and Washington, D.C.|
|Effective||10 October 1967|
|Condition||5 ratifications, including the depositary Governments|
|Depositary||Governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America|
|Languages||English, French, Russian, Spanish and Chinese|
|Outer Space Treaty of 1967 at Wikisource|
The Outer Space Treaty, formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law. The treaty was opened for signature in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union on 27 January 1967, and entered into force on 10 October 1967. As of February 2021[update], 111 countries are parties to the treaty, while another 23 have signed the treaty but have not completed ratification. In addition, Taiwan, which is currently recognized by 14 UN member states, ratified the treaty prior to the United Nations General Assembly's vote to transfer China's seat to the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1971.
Among the Outer Space Treaty's main points are that it prohibits the placing of nuclear weapons in space, limits the use of the Moon and all other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes only, and establishes that space shall be free for exploration and use by all nations, but that no nation may claim sovereignty of outer space or any celestial body. The Outer Space Treaty does not ban military activities within space, military space forces, or the weaponization of space, with the exception of the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space, and establishing military bases, testing weapons and conducting military maneuvers on celestial bodies. It is mostly a non-armament treaty and offers limited and ambiguous regulations to newer space activities such as lunar and asteroid mining.
The Outer Space Treaty represents the basic legal framework of international space law. Among its principles, it bars states party to the treaty from placing weapons of mass destruction in Earth orbit, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or otherwise stationing them in outer space. It specifically limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes, and expressly prohibits their use for testing weapons of any kind, conducting military maneuvers, or establishing military bases, installations, and fortifications (Article IV). However, the treaty does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit, and thus some highly destructive attack tactics, such as kinetic bombardment, are still potentially allowable. The treaty also states that the exploration of outer space shall be done to benefit all countries and that space shall be free for exploration and use by all the states.
The treaty explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial body such as the Moon or a planet. Article II of the treaty states that "outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means." However, the state that launches a space object retains jurisdiction and control over that object. The state is also liable for damages caused by its space object.
Being primarily an arms-control treaty for the peaceful use of outer space, it offers limited and ambiguous regulations to newer space activities such as lunar and asteroid mining. It therefore remains under contention whether the extraction of resources falls within the prohibitive language of appropriation or whether the use encompasses the commercial use and exploitation. Seeking clearer guidelines, private U.S. companies lobbied the U.S. government, and space mining was legalized in 2015 by introducing the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015. Similar national legislation to legalize the appropriation of extraterrestrial resources are now being introduced by other countries, including Luxembourg, Japan, China, India, and Russia. This has created some controversy regarding legal claims over the mining of celestial bodies for profit.
Responsibility for activities in space
Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty deals with international responsibility, stating that "the activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty" and that States Parties shall bear international responsibility for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities.
As a result of discussions arising from Project West Ford in 1963, a consultation clause was included in Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty: "A State Party to the Treaty which has reason to believe that an activity or experiment planned by another State Party in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, would cause potentially harmful interference with activities in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, may request consultation concerning the activity or experiment."
- The Rescue Agreement of 1968.
- The Space Liability Convention of 1972.
- The Registration Convention of 1976.
- The Moon Treaty of 1979 failed to be ratified by any major space-faring nation such as those capable of orbital spaceflight.
The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) coordinates these treaties and other questions of space jurisdiction.
List of parties
The Outer Space Treaty was opened for signature in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union on 27 January 1967, and entered into force on 10 October 1967. As of February 2021, 111 countries are parties to the treaty, while another 23 have signed the treaty but have not completed ratification.
Multiple dates indicate the different days in which states submitted their signature or deposition, which varied by location. This location is noted by: (L) for London, (M) for Moscow, and (W) for Washington, DC. Also indicated is whether the state became a party by way of signing the treaty and subsequent ratification, by accession to the treaty after it had closed for signature, or by succession of states after separation from some other party to the treaty.
|Algeria||27 Jan 1992 (W)||Accession|
|Antigua and Barbuda||
||Succession from United Kingdom|
||26 Mar 1969 (M, W)||Ratification|
|Armenia||28 Mar 2018 (M)||Accession|
|Australia||27 Jan 1967 (W)||10 Oct 1967 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Austria||20 Feb 1967 (L, M, W)||26 Feb 1968 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Azerbaijan||9 Sep 2015 (L)||Accession|
||Succession from United Kingdom|
|Bahrain||7 Aug 2019 (M)||Accession|
|Barbados||12 Sep 1968 (W)||Accession|
|Belarus||10 Feb 1967 (M)||31 Oct 1967 (M)||Ratification|
||5 Mar 1969 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Bulgaria||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||
|Burkina Faso||3 Mar 1967 (W)||18 Jun 1968 (W)||Ratification|
|Canada||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||10 Oct 1967 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
||8 Oct 1981 (W)||Ratification|
|Cuba||3 Jun 1977 (M)||Accession|
||Succession from Czechoslovakia|
|Denmark||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||10 Oct 1967 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Dominican Republic||27 Jan 1967 (W)||21 Nov 1968 (W)||Ratification|
||7 Mar 1969 (W)||Ratification|
|Egypt||27 Jan 1967 (M, W)||
|El Salvador||27 Jan 1967 (W)||15 Jan 1969 (W)||Ratification|
|Equatorial Guinea||16 Jan 1989 (M)||Accession|
|Estonia||19 Apr 2010 (M)||Accession|
||Succession from United Kingdom|
|Finland||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||Jul 12, 1967 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|France||25 Sep 1967 (L, M, W)||5 Aug 1970 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Germany||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||10 Feb 1971 (L, W)||Ratification|
|Greece||27 Jan 1967 (W)||19 Jan 1971 (L)||Ratification|
|Guinea-Bissau||20 Aug 1976 (M)||Accession|
|Hungary||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||26 Jun 1967 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Iceland||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||5 Feb 1968 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|India||3 Mar 1967 (L, M, W)||18 Jan 1982 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
||25 Jun 2002 (L)||Ratification|
|Ireland||27 Jan 1967 (L, W)||
|Israel||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||
|Italy||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||4 May 1972 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Jamaica||29 Jun 1967 (L, M, W)||
|Japan||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||10 Oct 1967 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Kazakhstan||11 Jun 1998 (M)||Accession|
|Kenya||19 Jan 1984 (L)||Accession|
|North Korea||5 Mar 2009 (M)||Accession|
|South Korea||27 Jan 1967 (W)||13 Oct 1967 (W)||Ratification|
|Lebanon||23 Feb 1967 (L, M, W)||
|Libya||3 Jul 1968 (W)||Accession|
|Lithuania||25 Mar 2013 (W)||Accession|
||17 Jan 2006 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Madagascar||22 Aug 1968 (W)||Accession|
|Mali||11 Jun 1968 (M)||Accession|
|Malta||22 May 2017 (L)||Accession|
||Succession from United Kingdom|
|Mexico||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||31 Jan 1968 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Mongolia||27 Jan 1967 (M)||10 Oct 1967 (M)||Ratification|
|Myanmar||22 May 1967 (L, M, W)||18 Mar 1970 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Netherlands||10 Feb 1967 (L, M, W)||10 Oct 1969 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|New Zealand||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||31 May 1968 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Niger||1 Feb 1967 (W)||
|Nigeria||14 Nov 1967 (L)||Accession|
|Norway||3 Feb 1967 (L, M, W)||1 Jul 1969 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Pakistan||12 Sep 1967 (L, M, W)||8 Apr 1968 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Papua New Guinea||
||Succession from Australia|
|Paraguay||22 Dec 2016 (L)||Accession|
|Peru||30 Jun 1967 (W)||
|Poland||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||30 Jan 1968 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Portugal||29 May 1996 (L)||Accession|
|Qatar||13 Mar 2012 (W)||Accession|
|Romania||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||9 Apr 1968 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Russia||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||10 Oct 1967 (L, M, W)||Ratification as the Soviet Union|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||13 May 1999 (L)||Succession from United Kingdom|
|Saudi Arabia||17 Dec 1976 (W)||Accession|
|Seychelles||5 Jan 1978 (L)||Accession|
|Singapore||10 Sep 1976 (L, M, W)||Accession|
||Succession from Czechoslovakia|
|Slovenia||8 Feb 2019 (L)||Accession|
|South Africa||1 Mar 1967 (W)||
|Sri Lanka||10 Mar 1967 (L)||18 Nov 1986 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Sweden||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||11 Oct 1967 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
||18 Dec 1969 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Syria||19 Nov 1968 (M)||Accession|
|Thailand||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||
|Togo||27 Jan 1967 (W)||26 Jun 1989 (W)||Ratification|
||Succession from United Kingdom|
|Turkey||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||27 Mar 1968 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|Uganda||24 Apr 1968 (W)||Accession|
|Ukraine||Feb 10, 1967 (M)||Oct 31, 1967 (M)||Ratification|
|United Arab Emirates||4 Oct 2000 (W)||Accession|
|United Kingdom||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||10 Oct 1967 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
|United States||27 Jan 1967 (L, M, W)||10 Oct 1967 (L, M, W)||Ratification|
||31 Aug 1970 (W)||Ratification|
|Venezuela||27 Jan 1967 (W)||3 Mar 1970 (W)||Ratification|
|Vietnam||20 Jun 1980 (M)||Accession|
|Yemen||1 Jun 1979 (M)||Accession|
Partially recognized state abiding by treaty
The Republic of China (Taiwan), which is currently recognized by 14 UN member states, ratified the treaty prior to the United Nations General Assembly's vote to transfer China's seat to the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1971. When the PRC subsequently ratified the treaty, they described the Republic of China's (ROC) ratification as "illegal". The ROC has committed itself to continue to adhere to the requirements of the treaty, and the United States has declared that it still considers the ROC to be "bound by its obligations".
|Republic of China||27 Jan 1967||24 Jul 1970||Ratification|
States that have signed but not ratified
Twenty-three states have signed but not ratified the treaty.
|Bolivia||27 Jan 1967 (W)|
|Botswana||27 Jan 1967 (W)|
|Burundi||27 Jan 1967 (W)|
|Cameroon||27 Jan 1967 (W)|
|Central African Republic||27 Jan 1967 (W)|
|Colombia||27 Jan 1967 (W)|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||
|Gambia||2 Jun 1967 (L)|
|Guyana||3 Feb 1967 (W)|
|Haiti||27 Jan 1967 (W)|
|Holy See||5 Apr 1967 (L)|
|Honduras||27 Jan 1967 (W)|
|Iran||27 Jan 1967 (L)|
|Jordan||2 Feb 1967 (W)|
|Lesotho||27 Jan 1967 (W)|
|Panama||27 Jan 1967 (W)|
|Rwanda||27 Jan 1967 (W)|
|Somalia||2 Feb 1967 (W)|
|Trinidad and Tobago||
1976 Bogota Declaration
The "Declaration of the First Meeting of Equatorial Countries", also known as the "Bogota Declaration", is a declaration made and signed in 1976 by eight equatorial countries, and was an attempt to assert sovereignty over those portions of the geostationary orbit that continuously lie over the signatory nations' territory. These claims have been one of the few attempts to challenge the Outer Space Treaty, but they did not receive wider international support or recognition. Subsequently, they were largely abandoned.
- High-altitude nuclear explosion (HANE)
- Kármán line
- Lunar Flag Assembly
- Common heritage of mankind
- Militarization of space
- Moon Treaty
- SPACE Act of 2015
- Treaty on Open Skies
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
- International waters
- International zone
- Extraterritorial jurisdiction
- Extraterritorial operation
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