Academic journal article Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

Imagery and Expectations for International Disaster Response

Academic journal article Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

Imagery and Expectations for International Disaster Response

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This Article examines the development and contributions of the Charter on Cooperation to Achieve the Coordinated Use of Space Facilities in the Event of Natural or Technological Disasters (Charter). As a voluntary mechanism among spacefaring nations and transnational entities, the Charter provides remote sensing data and information for international disaster response efforts. Over the past fifteen years, the Charter members have continued to contribute and cooperate in an effective manner, in spite of increasing legislative and economic controls over the access and distribution of data at the State level. This Article finds that the behaviors of Charter members largely fall outside of traditional, geopolitical rationales over security and commercial interests, and argues that the guiding dynamics of the Charter stem from a historical construct of actions and ideals from actors within scientific and technical communities. Drawing from normative concepts within international relations theory, the Article concludes that the Charter has become a progressive case for the potential influence of non-binding legal frameworks on interstate cooperation.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  I. INTRODUCTION
 II. THE POLICY FIELD
III. INTERNATIONAL LEGAL ASPECTS
     A. The Outer Space Treaty
     B. The Remote Sensing Principles
 IV. THE CHARTER
  V. DISCUSSION
 VI. CONCLUSION

Remote sensing activities shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic, social or scientific and technological development, and taking into particular consideration the needs of the developing countries.--Principle II

Remote sensing shall promote the protection of mankind from natural disasters.--Principle XI

I. INTRODUCTION

By now, the benefits of satellite remote sensing (1) for disaster management are well known within global relief networks. Among other things, remote sensing data and information are used to direct aid, monitor flooding, and make detailed damage assessments. In the immediate aftermath of a major disaster, the sharing of these data across borders is crucial. However, disjointed policy objectives and the increase of regulatory measures at the state level can obstruct the open exchange of data among global stakeholders. To overcome these obstacles, the Charter on Cooperation to Achieve the Coordinated Use of Space Facilities in the Event of Natural or Technological Disaster (2) has emerged as an international effort, which brings together public and private actors from relevant sectors to provide rapid and effective technical assistance to any state or community immediately affected by large-scale disasters. The Charter's members operate on a voluntary basis and have consistently pooled the necessary space resources together to respond to some 450 plus incidents in over 110 countries. (3) Through a growing network of national space agencies, private entities, and cooperating bodies, the Charter is steadily becoming a compelling model for addressing global issues through cross-sectoral cooperation.

One of the Charter's greatest achievements has been the ability to navigate many of the political barriers that stifle international aid and remote sensing activities alike. To date, the signatories to the Charter include state agencies from nearly every major geopolitical powerhouse. (4) Their ability to effectively cooperate and willingness to contribute on a non-discriminatory basis is as commendable as it is puzzling, particularly when considering the inherent security implications and commercial interests that accompany remote sensing technologies. This Article, then, attempts to provide a possible explanation for these behaviors. It views the overall activities of the Charter outside of the geostrategic interests of states, and asks the question: why do states sanction these efforts?

To begin, this Article will provide a general overview of the field. …

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