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Human Rights and Space: Reflections on the Implications of Human Activity in Outer Space on Human Rights Law


  • Danielle Ireland-Piper Bond University
  • Steven Freeland Bond University



Outer Space, Human Rights, International Law, Technology, Extraterritorial


What are the implications of human activity in outer space for international human rights law? In this article, we reflect on these questions with a view to advancing dialogue on the intersection between space law and human rights. We do so by considering the impact of extra-terrestrial human activities such as access to space and remote-sensing activities, space debris, space mining, the weaponisation and militarization of space, and the assertion of criminal jurisdiction extra-terrestrially. Ultimately, we conclude that human activity in space has significant consequences for the advancement of human rights. While, in our view, existing legal frameworks on international human rights law apply extra-terrestrially, there is still scope for specialist frameworks guarding human rights law in the context of human activity in outer space. 

"To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit." 

~ Stephen Hawking, Astrophysicist 

"Space is for everybody. It's not just for a few people in science or math, or for a select group of astronauts. That's our new frontier out there, and it's everybody's business to know about space." 

~ Christa McAuliffe, Teacher and Challenger Astronaut