Outer Space Treaty of 1967
Outer Space Treaty of 1967
Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, an international treaty approved on Dec. 19, 1966, by the 21st session of the UN General Assembly and signed on Jan. 27, 1967, in Moscow, Washington, and London by the depositary states—the USSR, the USA, and Great Britain. Other states began signing the treaty the same day. For the countries that sign it, the Outer Space Treaty becomes effective from the time the instruments of ratification are turned over to the depositary states for safekeeping. By May 1, 1971, 90 countries, including the USSR, the Ukrainian SSR, and the Byelorussian SSR had signed the treaty. The treaty is termless, open for signing to all states, and provides for every state’s right to withdraw from it at any time.
The Outer Space Treaty has a preamble and 17 articles. Article 1 stipulates that the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall serve the welfare and interests of all countries regardless of the degree of their economic or scientific development and that outer space and celestial bodies are open to all states on an equal basis without any discrimination. Article 3 of the treaty states that activities in outer space shall be in accordance with international law and shall promote international peace and security and the development of international cooperation and mutual aid. The treaty guarantees the protection of the legitimate interests of each state individually and of the whole international community against abuses of whatever rights have been granted. The states that have signed the treaty pledge not to place in outer space objects carrying nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction; to use the moon and other celestial bodies exclusively for peaceful ends; not to create military bases, installations, or fortifications on the moon or other celestial bodies, and not to conduct tests of any weapons or military maneuvers on them.
The treaty set forth the general principle that states that are party to the treaty have international responsibility for national activity in outer space, regardless of whether this activity is carried out by governmental agencies or by nongovernmental juristic persons. Parties to the treaty are also responsible for damage caused by space objects or parts of the objects to another party to the treaty or to its natural or juristic persons, regardless of the place where the damage takes place: on earth, in the atmosphere, or in outer space. States are obliged to be especially careful in conducting space experiments that could disturb the activity of other states or adversely affect the environment of the earth. The treaty banned the use of outer space for war propaganda.
With respect to cooperation in outer space, the treaty states that astronauts of one state must give all possible assistance to astronauts of other states in their activity in outer space and on celestial bodies; all stations, installations, equipment, and spaceships on the moon and on other celestial bodies are open to representatives of other parties to the treaty on the basis of reciprocity. Astronauts are considered envoys of mankind in outer space, and all possible assistance must be extended to them in case of accident, distress, or forced landing.
REFERENCEVedomosti Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR, 1967, no. 44, p. 588.
A. I. IOIRYSH