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  • Limits on Space Weapons: Incorporating the Law of War into the Corpus Juris Spatialis

    Paper number



    Mr. PJ Blount, National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law, United States




    Article III of the Outer Space Treaty applies the principles of international law to the territory of outer space. This paper will investigate international law sources for limits on “space weaponisation” found outside the space treaty regime, including jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and international humanitarian law. Through analysis of both customary and treaty made limitations on space weapons, the research will integrate the body of the law of war with the body of international space law. This study will further a more unified theory of the corpus juris spatialis as called for by Article III. Furthermore, definition of these limits will allow for a more focused debate on “space weaponisation.”

    The “weaponisation” of outer space is an increasingly important topic in the area of space law. The issues have recently been highlighted through numerous world events including the Chinese ASAT test of 2007; the entrance of Iran (who has signed but not ratified the Outer Space Treaty) as a space-faring nation; the United States’ intentional destruction of USA 193; and the proposed treaty banning space weapons. These events illustrate the constraints on the power of Outer Space Treaty to limit space weapons.

    The space treaty regime sets few and narrow limitations on the “weaponisation” of outer space. Since the treaty limiting these types of weapons proposed by Russia and China at the 2008 Conference on Disarmament will likely not make progress due to U.S. opposition, it will be crucial to look for other limits on the weapons in outer space. Using international law principals, this paper will outline the actual legal parameters for space weapons that are drawn into space law via Article 3.

    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-08.E8.3.5.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.