Cosmic International Law
THIS BOOK is the result of an effort undertaken in three stages.
I. The launching of the first Sputnik, on October 4, I957, aroused in me an interest in the problems which this event might pose from a legal point of view. I therefore decided to make a study of these problems; and the deeper I went into the matter, the broader became the object of my analysis. At that time, in I957 and I958, the scarcity of material in this field was my greatest difficulty. There was not enough material available to make it possible to contrast varying positions, and I had to feel my way along. Still, scarce though it was, and limited as it was to an area of vague generalities, the material I discovered in different libraries in Paris, in the library of the "Palais des Nations" in Geneva and in that of the "Palais de la Paix" in the Hague, became the main source from which I was able to draw my first conclusions for my doctoral thesis, Etudes de Droit Interplanetaire, presented April 29, I959.
2. After I959, studies on the legal problems of space began to multiply, and I was able to incorporate a large mass of bibliography into my work, which I modified here and enlarged there, so that the Spanish edition, Introduccion al derecho internacional cosmico (Introduction to Cosmic International Law), National University, Mexico, I96I, might reflect the status of space law as it existed in the early part of I96I.
3. At present, the problem involved in making a study of the legal aspects of the exploration and conquest of space is exactly the opposite of the one I had to overcome in 1958 The extraordinary proliferation of works on this subject makes it very difficult to keep up with them, and a times it is impossible to pick out from this great mass what is truly representative, since the majority of these works merely repeat others that have appeared before them, in a kind of sleight-of-hand in which ideas are tossed back and forth repeatedly before the eyes of students. Trying to keep within a strict and selective criterion, I have revised the Spanish edition of this book, making modifications where I deemed it advisable, and adding certain aspects I had not gone into because at the time they had not yet been sufficiently developed . In addition, the documentary section, while having a certain value in the Spanish edition, because of the difficulty of finding the material in this language has been dropped for the English edition.
In preparing the Spanish edition, I decided to change the title originally adopted, and I should like to keep the new title in the English edition, because it reflects the orientation I should like to give to this study and the limits I have imposed upon it. In fact, I find the various names usually given to studies of this nature far from satisfactory, as I indicated in the preliminary note to the Spanish edition. 1. "Astronautical Law" really refers to laws of navigation in outer space. 2. "Interplanetary Law" ( the title I first took) should have as its object the study of relationship between inhabitants of different planets. 3. "Transair Law" (a term created by Escobar Faria) referring as it does to laws governing air navigation, does not adequately cover the contents of this book, which are actually more accurately revealed by the title "Astronautic Law". 4. A. G. Haley´s "Metalaw", which attempts to make an overall survey of law as it exists in order to adapt it to relationships with intelligent beings different from man who may exist in other worlds, is too broad a term.
Actually, without discrediting the value of each of the above titles, and of others not quoted (such as "The Law of Space" or "The Law of Outer Space") all of which may have a precise purpose or a concrete point, none of them is exactly right for this book. The name I have chosen is the one that expresses to my satisfaction the purpose of my study. I am not unaware of the necessity or the advisability of studying the various problems which may arise with regard to human relationships in space, but I desire to confine myself to the international aspects of such activities, and above all to the problems that may arise between nations as a result of their activities in outer space. This is the reason I have chosen the title Cosmic International Law.
In studying this book, the reader will undoubtedly encounter problems that it will not always be possible to solve at the moment, but I shall try at every step to point out the difference between mere conjecture and wishful thinking, and what is actually subject to laws that are in effect. My position is clearly distinct from those held by two types of jurists: those who believe that activities in cosmic space represent a field that can well be left absolutely to the freedom of the states because of the absence of regulations; and those who make up their own regulations as they please. These two attitudes do not tally with the facts of the matter. It is true that up to now, with exceptions which I shall point out in my study, there are no laws which have been created specifically for activities in space. But it is also true that the principles of international law, whose purpose is to regulate relationships between states, are in force, and these principles apply to these relationships, no matter where they may take place. Therefore, we cannot speak categorically of a legal vacuum in outer space, since international law is applicable there.
I have thus wished to bring to my study what I consider a rigorous scientific method, making a clear distinction between problems of lege lata and those which belong more appropriately to de lege ferenda.
There is no legal vacuum in outer space, but we must be careful not to confuse outer space with air space, as some do who refuse to admit it, and we must Keep in mind that it is not permissible under any circumstances for an individual to manufacture new rules to suit his purpose or inclination.