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Outer Space Treaty

25-APR-2016 18:23

    Outer Space Treaty is a legal entity and came in 1966 as a legal document towards the General Assembly. The Treaty was largely based on the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, which had been adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 1962 (XVIII) in 1963, but added a few new provisions. The Treaty was opened for signature by the three depository Governments (the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States of America) in January 1967, and it entered into force in October 1967.


    Administrative Structure of Outer Space Treaty

    The Office is headed by a Director and has two sections: the Space Applications Section, which organizes and carries out the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, and the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section, which provides substantive secretariat services to the Committee, its two subcommittees and its working groups. The Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section also prepare and distribute reports and publications on international space activities and on international space law.


    Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section (CPLA): It provides substantive secretariat services to the Working Group of the Whole of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) of the General Assembly when it considers the item on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

    Space Applications Section (SAS): As a result of the shifting emphasis from scientific exploration of outer space to the practical applications of space technology, the Office has been increasingly involved in implementing decisions of the Committee and its subsidiary bodies related to the promotion of international cooperation in the uses of space technology for economic and social development. Beginning with the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE) in 1968, the Office has carried out programmes designed to disseminate information and provide training in the practical applications of space technology, in particular for developing countries.


    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 orbit of Earth, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or otherwise stationing them in outer space. It exclusively 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 manoeuvres, or establishing military bases, installations, and fortifications (Article IV). However, the Treaty does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit. The treaty also states that the exploration of outer space shall be done to benefit all countries and shall be free for exploration and use by all the States.

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