The Law Applicable to Military Strategic Use of Outer Space

  • Duncan BlakeEmail author


Space power theories discussed in the previous chapter, as well as the realities of the strategic utility of weapons of space and the strategic importance of space itself are reflected in the legal framework for the use of space. These factors were present when the Cold War superpowers negotiated the Outer Space Treaty and several other constitutive legal instruments. But as Cold War relations thawed, the impetus for treaty-making diminished. Concurrently the space domain became more congested, competitive and contested with many more entrants. There were and still are efforts to address the current challenges to space security but the instruments resulting from, or proposed by, those efforts lack the same legal force as the original, constitutive legal instruments; they are somewhat vague and their approach to the unfortunate and controversial possibility of hostilities in space is tentative at best. The constitutive legal instruments for the space domain do not directly deal with the possibility of hostilities in space in detail, but they do indirectly contemplate the application of the law of armed conflict. Both the constitutive legal instruments and the subsequent efforts to address the current challenges to space security influence the way in which the law of armed conflict potentially applies to hostilities in outer space. However, there remains great uncertainty about the application of the law of armed conflict to hostilities in the space domain. Efforts to achieve greater clarity must be undertaken before such hostilities occur, in part because such efforts will help to address some of the current challenges in space security.


United Nations Armed Conflict Outer Space Space Debris Additional Protocol 
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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Military Law CentrePaddingtonAustralia

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