The body of law governing space-related activities, also called “Space Law”, was until recently primarily made up of five international treaties negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 governs the activities of States in the exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies. The Rescue Agreement of 1967 lays down principles on the rescue of astronauts, the return of astronauts, and the return of objects launched into outer space. The Liability Convention of 1972 establishes mechanisms for international liability for damage caused by space objects. The Registration Convention of 1974 provides rules for the registration of objects Launched into Outer Space. The Moon Agreement of 1979 puts in place rules governing the activities of states on the Moon and other celestial bodies. Additional guidelines, principles, and declarations were drawn up by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
From the beginning of the space race to the end of the Cold War, space programs were largely dominated by the monopoly of governmental programs. As technological developments proliferated and the costs of access to space lowered, an increasing number of private actors have joined the space industry over the past three decades. With the advent of new players trying to reach the stars, several countries started to enact national space legislation to implement international space law treaties into domestic legislation, but also to put in place regulations for new activities such as space tourism, the commercial mining of asteroids, and the removal of orbital debris, in attempts to establish a solid legal framework without preventing the space industry from flourishing because of excessively cumbersome obligations.
The Republic of Azerbaijan has now joined the club of countries having national space legislation. Law 16:45 on Space Activities entered into force in August 2023. It is made up of six chapters and 24 articles that regulates the legal, economic, and organisational bases of space activities in Azerbaijan. The new law creates rules for, inter alia, the registration of space objects, the acquisition and preservation of orbital positions, the assignment of ground space infrastructure and space objects, Earth observation, and telecommunications satellite networks.
Although the space industry of Azerbaijan is just starting to spring, the country embarked on an ambitious project to position itself as an emerging space nation and will host the 74th International Astronautical Congress, taking place in Baku from 2-6 October 2023. This event will bring together more than 5,000 participants from across the world to debate about the current issues and future challenges in the space sector.
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