United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs

United Nations Treaties and Principles on Space Law

The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is the only international forum for the development of international space law. Since its inception, the Committee has concluded five international legal instruments and five sets of legal principles governing space-related activities.

The five treaties and agreements are:

The international legal principles in these five treaties provide for non-appropriation of outer space by any one country, arms control, the freedom of exploration, liability for damage caused by space objects, the safety and rescue of spacecraft and astronauts, the prevention of harmful interference with space activities and the environment, the notification and registration of space activities, scientific investigation and the exploitation of natural resources in outer space and the settlement of disputes. Each of the treaties lays great stress on the notion that the domain of outer space, the activities carried out therein and whatever benefits might accrue therefrom should be devoted to enhancing the well-being of all countries and humankind, and each includes elements elaborating the common idea of promoting international cooperation in outer space activities.

The five sets of legal principles adopted by the United Nations General Assembly provide for the application of international law and promotion of international cooperation and understanding in space activities, the dissemination and exchange of information through transnational direct television broadcasting via satellites and remote satellite observations of Earth and general standards regulating the safe use of nuclear power sources necessary for the exploration and use of outer space.

The five declarations and legal principles are:

Click here to download a list of international agreements and other available legal documents relevant to space law.

A compilation of the status of International Agreements relating to Activities in Outer Space is also available.

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