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Overview of the Implementation Status of the Five United Nations Treaties on Outer Space in African Countries
J-A. van Wyk
Department of Political Sciences, University of South Africa (UNISA), P O Box 392, Pretoria, 0003, South Africa


Abstract. This paper presents an overview of the five major UN Treaties on Outer Space. Each of these Treaties are briefly discussed and assessed with particular emphasis on aspects relevant to Africa. Very few African countries have ratified these Treaties, as well as enacted domestic space legislation. The paper concludes with an assessment of Africa’s involvement in multilateral space fora such as OOSA and UNCOPUOS. It also offers recommendations to improve African
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Finally, the OST deals with liability, the position of astronauts, as well as states’ responsibility to inform the UN Secretary General and the international scientific community of the nature, conduct, locations and results of their activities in outer space.3 Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (Rescue Agreement) (1968) The Rescue Agreement establishes the legal framework for emergency assistance to astronauts, which includes immediate notification of the launching authority as well as the UN Secretary General. Notification must also be given about any space object which has returned to Earth. It also makes provision for search and rescue operations and the prompt return as well as the recovery of space objects. The launching authority which may be a state is responsible for all costs incurred.4 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (Liability Convention) (1972) The Liability Convention imposes an international and an absolute liability on a launching state, or states, as well as on those states members of an inter-governmental organisation for any damage caused by their space object. ‘Launching state’ is defined in Article I as ‘a state which launches or procures the launching of a space object or from whose territory or facility a space object is launched,’ irrespective of the success, or not, of the launch. Furthermore, Article I defines damage

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