The Application of International Human Rights Instruments in Outer Space Settlements: Today's Science Fiction, Tomorrow's Reality
The military and commercial exploitation of outer space has received increasing international attention since the United States of America announced its intention to establish an outer space military force to protect its interests in outer space. Simultaneously, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and private enterprises such as Blue Origin and SpaceX declared plans to colonise the Moon and/or Mars in the near future. While technology is advancing rapidly to make these objectives a reality, the international legal rules related to these developments are completely uncertain, and in some instances non-existent. It is evident that these developments may have a direct impact on the internationally protected human rights of individuals, taking into account the extremely adverse conditions in outer space and the dangers involved in creating sustainable human living conditions in outer space. International discussion of and action on these legal issues are needed urgently. As a starting point, this contribution discusses the question of whether existing international human rights instruments enjoy extra-territorial application in outer space, given the current status of outer space law. In answering the question, a broad overview is presented of some human rights issues that may be relevant to living in outer space, and the role that the doctrine of effective control may play in this regard is analysed.
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