The international community has long been concerned about the weaponization of
outer space. Fears that outer space would become another arena for warfare have been
voiced in the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA),
the UN Committee for
Peaceful Uses of Outer Space,
and the Conference on Disarmament.
weaponization of outer space were frequently heated in recent years: when the United
Statesspace policy was announced in 2006 denying the use of space to adversaries if
when the Chinas land-based missiles destroyed a home-made obsolete
meteorological satellite at 800 km above the earth on January 11, 2007;
when a US spy
satellite was shot down by a US MS-3 missile on February 20, 2008;
and when the flight
test of the US air force X-37 reusable space plane took place in April 2010.
What makes the international community so worried is that the existing
international legal regime governing space weapons is inadequate.
withdrawal of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems Treaty in 2002,
and the termination of US-Soviet Treaty on Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms of
1979, there are only three international treaties governing space weapons, namely, the
Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under
Water (Partial Test Ban Treaty) of 1963, the Treaty on Principles Governing the
Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the Moon and
Other Celestial Bodies (Outer Space Treaty) of 1967, and the Agreement Governing
the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Moon Agreement) of
1979. However, the Partial Test Ban Treaty only prohibits the testing of nuclear weapons
See Secretary-General says benefits of space exploration should not be limited to privileged few,
Doc. SG/SM/7767 (Apr. 12, 2001), available at http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2001/sgsm7767.doc.htm (last
visited on Sept. 20, 2011).
2Report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, U.N. GAOR, 58th Sess., Supp. No. 20, U.N. Doc.
A/58/20 8 (June 11-20, 2003), available at http://www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/56/a5620.pdf (last visited on Sept.
The Conference on Disarmament and the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, available at
http://www.unidir.org/bdd/fiche-ouvrage.php?ref_ouvrage=92-9045-011-B-en (last visited on Sept. 20, 2011).
National Space Policy of the United States of America (Aug. 31, 2006),
library/spacepolicy (last visited on Sept. 20, 2011).
China confirms Anti-satellite Missile Test
, CBS N
(Jan. 23, 2007),
stories/2007/01/23/world/main2387524.shtml (last visited on Sept. 20. 2011).
US: Missile Smashed Spay Satellite
, CBS N
(Feb. 11, 2009),
stories/2008/02/20/tech/main3851209.shtml (last visited on Sept. 20, 2011).
X-37B US Military Spaceplane Returns to Earth
, BBC N
(Dec. 3, 2010),
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11911335 (last visited on Sept. 20, 2011).
8Conference on Disarmament, CD/1818 (Mar. 14, 2007), 18-19.