10-06-19 06:48:00,

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 enshrined the principle of outer space being preserved as a common heritage of humankind,1 yet “lacks any provisions that would regulate the methods of the settlement of eventual disputes, which usually appear in law-making treaties, such as the 1959 Antarctic Treaty”.2 Outer space is now an “increasingly congested and contested environment”.3  Delegates at the UN’s First Committee dealing with disarmament and international security determined that “prompt action [is] needed to address the safety and security of the Earth’s orbit, given growing numbers of satellites, the development of sophisticated defence systems and the ever-increasing amount of orbital congestion, which currently [includes] more than 500,000 pieces of debris”.4 “[R]adio frequencies and any associated orbits…are limited natural resources thatmust be used rationally, efficiently and economically … so that countries … may have equitable access to those orbits and frequencies.”5

“[A]s more countries integrate space into their national military capabilities and rely onspace-based information for national security, there is an increased chance that any interference with satellites could spark or escalate tensions and conflict in space or on Earth. This is made all the more difficult by the challenge of determining the exact cause of a satellite malfunction: whether it was due to a space weather event, impact by space debris, unintentional interference, or deliberate aggression.”6

“Some states are developing or have developed a range of [anti-satellite] ASAT capabilities,including ground- and space-based weapons, that could be used to deceive, disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy elements of space systems. Developing and testing ASAT capabilities would likely undermine political and strategic stability, especially without clarity of intent. Further, testing or using debris-generating weapons could contaminate the orbital environment for decades to centuries, significantly affecting all space actors and severely undermining the long-term sustainability of space.”6

“[T]he weaponization of outer space for any purpose—whether offensive or defensive,against any space/celestial body or against an Earth-bound target—would effectively turn space objects into potential targets and turn outer space into a potential conflict zone.”7

Yet despite the risk of “mishaps, misperceptions and miscalculations”,8 there exists no “legally binding instrument dealing with … the prevention of an arms race in outer space”.8 Nor are there “legally binding rules to refrain from creating space debris”,7 yet such debris can collide,

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