Convention on international liability for damage caused by space objects

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The Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, commonly known as the “Liability Convention,” is an international treaty that governs liability for damage caused by space objects. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 and entered into force on September 1, 1972.

The Liability Convention establishes a framework for determining liability and providing compensation for damages resulting from activities in outer space. It applies to all space objects, including satellites, space probes, and other human-made objects launched into space.

Key provisions of the Liability Convention include:

  1. Fault-based liability: The convention adopts a fault-based liability regime, meaning that a launching state is held responsible for damage caused by its space object if it is found to be at fault or negligent in its activities.
  2. Absolute liability: The convention also introduces a system of absolute liability for damage caused by space objects that do not involve fault or negligence. Under this provision, a launching state is strictly liable for damage caused by its space object on the Earth’s surface or to an aircraft in flight.
  3. Joint liability: If two or more states are jointly responsible for launching a space object, they are jointly and severally liable for any damage caused by that object.
  4. Limitation of liability: The Liability Convention sets a limit on the amount of compensation that can be claimed from a launching state for damage caused by its space object. The limit is determined based on a formula that takes into account various factors such as the nature of the damage and the number of launches by the state.
  5. Consultations and settlement: The convention encourages states to consult with each other and seek a prompt and equitable settlement of any claims for damage caused by space objects.

The Liability Convention has been ratified by numerous countries and has become a widely accepted framework for addressing liability and compensation in the field of space activities. It works in conjunction with other international treaties, such as the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which provides the general framework for the peaceful use and exploration of outer space.

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