Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects
- Type: Convention
- Date of signature: 29/03/1972
- Place of signature: London, United Kingdom
- Depositary: Government of the United Kingdom, the United States and the Russian Federation
- Date of entry into force: 01/09/1972
What is it about?
This Convention elaborates international rules and procedures concerning liability for damage caused by space objects and ensures equitable compensation for victims of such damage. It implements the principles set forth in the 1967 Treaty governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and other Celestial Bodies. A launching State has the absolute liability to pay compensation for damage caused by its space object on the surface of the earth or to aircraft in flight, whereas damage implies loss of life, personal injury and the loss of or damage to personal property. In the event of damage being caused elsewhere than on the surface of the earth to a space object of a launching State by a space object of another launching State, the liability of the latter is engaged if the damage is due to its fault. A claim for compensation for damage has to be presented to a launching State through diplomatic channels. If a State does not maintain diplomatic relations with the launching State concerned, its claim may be presented through a third State or the Secretary General of the United Nations. The provisions of the Convention do not apply to damage caused by a space object of a launching State to nationals of that State, neither to foreign nationals participating in the operation of the damaging space object, nor to guests invited to the launching or recovery area. Two or more States engaging commonly to launch an object into space are jointly liable for all resulting damages.
Why is it relevant?
Up to 2005 the liability rules provided by this Convention have been applied only once since their adoption when a Soviet military satellite dissipated above Canada in 1978.
The presentation of compensation claims is open to states that suffer damage or whose nationals do so. If the state of nationality has not presented a claim, legal action is open for the state in whose territory the damage was sustained or for the state of permanent residence of a person that sustained damage.
- Agreement governing the Activities of States on the Moon and other Celestial Bodies (New York, 18 November 1979)
- Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (New York, 12 December 1974)
- Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (London, Moscow, and Washington D.C., 22 April 1968)
- Treaty governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and other Celestial Bodies (London, Moscow and Washington D.C., 27 January 1967)