The 1968 Astronauts Agreement

Bin Cheng

in Studies in International Space Law

Published in print December 1997 | ISBN: 9780198257301
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681745 | DOI:
The 1968 Astronauts Agreement

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This chapter details the events leading up to the ratification of the 1968 Astronauts Agreement. The Agreement may be said to provide a classic object lesson in how not to make a treaty. First, the haste in which the final text was prepared and rushed through the United Nations resulted in a very poorly conceived and drafted instrument, achieving virtually nothing and yet creating at the same time a host of unresolved problems and difficulties. Secondly, in an agreement the effectiveness of which depends on its wide acceptance, the benefits are so one-sidedly in favour of the space powers (be they major, near-, or co-operative) that it is difficult to see why the non-space powers, which at least for the present represent the majority of States, even though they may be perfectly willing, on humanitarian grounds, to discharge the duties laid down in the Agreement, should legally divest themselves of all discretion as to how they are to be performed. Finally, the major space powers, by pushing this Agreement through ahead of the liability agreement in which all States are interested, and the non-space powers in particular, have only succeeded in convincing the latter that the surest way of ensuring that there will be a liability agreement and that its terms will be satisfactory, is not to ratify or accede to the Astronauts Agreement.

Keywords: international treaties; international law; space law; Astronauts Agreement; United Nations; liability agreement

Chapter.  10606 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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