UDC 347.85
Biblid: 0025-8555, 73(2021)
Vol. 73, No 3, pp. 477-509
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2298/MEDJP2103477V

Оriginal article
Received: 30 Jul 2021
Accepted: 13 Sep 2021


VUČIĆ Mihajlo (Viši naučni saradnik u Institutu za međunarodnu politiku i privredu, Beograd), mihajlo@diplomacy.bg.ac.rs

The commercialization of outer space has created new challenges for international law, aside from the traditional issues of demarcation and militarization. International norms that regulate space activities were adopted at a time when one could not imagine a private company being able to economically exploit space resources. The doctrine is divided between the supporters and opponents of the interpretation that allows for freedom of enterprise and ownership over space resources. The majority of states are prone to accept freedom of enterprise, limited by the interests of mankind and environmental protection. At the same time, except for states that allow for such a possibility through their internal laws, states are against ownership rights, believing that the non-appropriation principle is absolute. Economic exploitation is in accordance with the object and purpose of the Outer Space Treaty since it can undoubtedly benefit mankind. Ownership rights, however, are impossible to conceive under the existing legal framework. There is a need to reform the legal framework, if possible, through amendments to the Outer Space Treaty, although the more realistic avenue is through informal standards that would prevent the chaos of freedom to exploit outer space. The sustainable development of outer-space commercialization would, in the author’s opinion, encourage an internationally regulated economic initiative, which would not exclude freedom of access to space resources for every state.

Keywords: outer space, commercialization, international law, freedom of enterprise, common heritage of mankind, non-appropriation, sovereignty