A Rational Approach to Exciting Developments in Space Law

Article excerpt

Space Law A Treatise by FRANCIS LYALL and PAUL B. LARSEN, Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Surrey, 2009, 1st Edition, 596 pp, Hardcover, 80[pounds sterling], ISBN: 978 07546 4390 6, eISBN 978 0 7546 9242 3 (ebook)

Space has revolutionized telecommunication services, climate and weather forecasting, commerce, environmental management, security, banking, navigation and TV broadcasting. Consequently, in the lead up to the creation of the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) on 1 April 2011 the publication of a space law monograph is timely. The authors of this book, Professor Francis Lyall and Adjunct Professor Paul Larsen, are recognised experts in the developing body of space law. In the Preface theys advise that they met several decades ago in 1963-64 as students in a Space Law class run by Ivan Vlasic in the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University. Their enthusiasm for the subject and enduring friendship has clearly grown in the intervening years. Indeed their careers over the past forty-five year can be said to match the actual develop of space law. Lyall is a distinguished retired academic, although he remains active in teaching and scholarship, and holds the position of Emeritus Professor of Public Law at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He is a Board Member of the European Centre for Space Law and a Director of the International Institute of Space Law. He is also a member of the INTELSAT Panel of Legal Experts and sits on the ITU Reform group. He has previously written a monograph on space law entitled, Law and Space Law Telecommunications (1989) as well as numerous journal articles and curiously has so far published five crime novels! His co-author, Larsen, is an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law School in the United States where he has taught Aviation Law, International Law and a Space Law Seminar. He studied at the Institute of Air and Space Law at Cologne University and Yale University. He is the author of several books on aviation and space law and practised law from 1970-1998 in the US Department of Transportation.

A collaborative effort, the book is a companion to a collection of essays the pair edited in 2007 (1). The authors state that they "sought to present the bulk of space law as it stands in the 2000s" and that the book "is more akin to a mural than to an etching". This monograph builds on the seminal work of Space Law (1965) by J W Jenks and Vlasic's monumental treatise Law and Public Order in Space (1963) and later works in the French language Droit des activites spatiales (1992) by P-M Martin and the Italian Il Regime Internationale dello Spazio (1993) by F Pocar. It obviously adopts an international perspective and the authors clearly draw on their extensive experience in the field within the United Kingdom and the United States respectively. The authors are of the opinion that radical solutions have evolved for the problem of control of space relating to such issues as: (1) the basic principles of equality of access to space, (2) freedom of its exploration and use, (3) the prohibition of national sovereignty and finally (4) the lawfulness of only peaceful uses of space. Legal developments up to 1 January 2008 are explored in detail in the book. A clear advantage of the book is that there is certainly little competition in this highly specialised area of law. Further, although in hard cover it runs to a reasonable 596 pages in total, being reasonably competitively priced for a law book at 80[pounds sterling].

The book helpfully provides a list of abbreviations and acronyms as the space world is rife with acronyms that are not as familiar as NASA or ESA. There is also a succinct list of the space law Major Treaties. The Table of Contents organises the book into 18 chapters. Chapter 1 is an Introduction to the Actors, History and Fora of space law and culminates with Chapter 17 The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and Chapter 18 The Future. …