Celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2017, the UN Outer Space Treaty (OST) is the foundation of international space law. Since the OST, governments have agreed, through the UN, a growing list of treaties, principles, and guidelines. Collectively they constitute the normative framework governing activities in outer space. This normative framework has been instrumental in delivering the safe, secure, and sustainable environment that has enabled over half a century of exponential growth in space activities and the global space economy.
It is recognized that the integration of space sector with other sectors as well as the development of multi-stakeholder partnerships can lead to innovative space-based solutions for social and economic development and assist with the implementation of SDGs. In fact, research has shown that around 40% of the 169 targets behind the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda benefit from the use of geo-location and earth observation satellites. With the inclusion of telecommunication satellites, this statistic rises substantially. Considering that over 70 Member States, including Least Developed Countries, are currently operating national space programmes (with many more beginning to explore the possibility of space activities in near future), there is a pressing need to enhance efforts to raise awareness of and adherence to the existing normative framework governing outer space activities. This normative framework, consisting of treaties, principles and guidelines, has been instrumental in delivering the safe, secure and sustainable environment and enabled for over half a century of exponential growth in space activities and the global space economy.
To be able to reflect on this need, UNOOSA established in 2019 the Space Law for New Space Actors project. Activities conducted under the project support Member States in their use of space-based infrastructure to expand the potential of such activities for the benefit of people, prosperity, planet, partnership, and peace. Through the project, UNOOSA is able to provide tailor-made assistance through national technical advisory missions to requesting UN Member States to draft or revise their national space law and/or policies to be in line with the international normative frameworks applicable to outer space activities. Such capacity-building supports new and emerging spacefaring nations to conduct space activities responsibly and sustainably, and promotes the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. A core part of the UN's capacity-building activities on space law, the Space Law for New Space Actors project has been welcomed by the global space community as a significant contribution to promoting and supporting responsible space activities at the international level, tangible benefits to emerging spacefaring nations.