International Journal of Law


International Journal of Law
International Journal of Law
Vol. 7, Issue 2 (2021)

Outer space mining-An analysis of its legal aspects


Akash Agarwal

With the extensive activities of mining on earth and the interest of mankind in the outer-space, we have reached the stage where nations are interested in conducting outer-space mining. There is abundance of mineral on moon and asteroids which can be tapped into by humans with the right technology and laws. Two nations specifically have shown interests in the activity of space mining when it comes to legislations, namely United States of America and Luxembourg. But the outer space is the province of all mankind and the international space laws have not evolved with time. The two major international legal instruments dealing with the issue of space mining are Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies of 1967 (the Outer Space Treaty) and the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies of 1979 (the Moon Agreement). While the former was accepted and ratified widely, the latter was rejected by most nations, especially the major space-faring nations. The Outer Space treaty states outer space to be the province of all mankind and allows for exploration and use of outer space for scientific purposes but expressly prohibits militarisation or any military/weapon activity in outer-space. It also states that the said exploration and use shall be for the ‘benefit for all countries’. Further, the treaty prohibits appropriation or claim of Sovereignty of any celestial body by any nation. These are the major concerns when it comes to the issue of outer-space mining since the treaty neither expressly allows it or prohibits. The Moon treaty dealt with the issue of resources expressly and was rejected by major space faring nations because of similar provisions. This paper therefore analyses the concerns stated over the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Agreement and provides for a logical answer in this context. In the next part, it discusses about ‘common but differentiated principles’ and ‘sustainable development’ principles with respect to outer space mining. Lastly, it discusses on possible suggestions for the needed new laws in light of outer space mining to regulate the same efficiently.

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