THE UNITED NATIONS TREATY FOR
THE EXPLORATION AND USE OF OUTER SPACE
An interest in space and space affairs is wide-spread, particularly among younger people. Most children, in most countries share a common inspiration from the subject of "outer space". The reasons for this are obvious and manifold. Space invites imagination; in space all things are possible. It generates wonder, both in its natural and sometimes fearful beauty, and in the incredible technical achievements that mankind undertakes in order to investigate it further. It is also neutral, in many senses. Space, both physically and in the mind, is well away from the sometimes harsh realities of everyday existence. Space allows escape, adventure and a satisfying outlet for one's own inquisitive nature.
Outer Space has also become a focus as one of the United Nation's five common domains, which belong equally to all mankind.
It is important for the children of the world to understand and appreciate the role the UN has played, and still plays, in securing space as man's common heritage. It leads the way for the people of the world to see how peaceful co-existence can be achieved, without any need for the placement of weapons, or for the militarisation of off-world environments. The treaty places a responsibility of care on those who use space, to look after the natural environment and to offer assistance to space-farers who need it. Additionally, it encourages co-operation in space exploration and the sharing of knowledge from that exploration. The Treaty also states that the seventy- seven developing countries should have access to the benefits of space exploration, in the same way that developed countries do.
Not only does the treaty highlight the practical ways in which we use space, it can be seen as a symbol of what the UN is all about.
With these ideals in mind the Guardians of the Millennium have taken on the objective of informing young people, in terms they can understand, of the UN outer space treaty and its meaning. In addition, it has prepared some educational materials, in a form that enable students to think more deeply about the scope and implications of the Treaty.
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THE UNITED NATIONS TREATY FOR
THE EXPLORATION AND USE OF OUTER SPACE
An interpretation for younger readers
This Treaty was written because the exploration of space started.
The exploration and peacful use of outer space should be for everyone on Earth.
We want all countries who go into space to help each other with the science and law of space. This could be a step towards better relations between different countries.
The Treaty refers to a previous UN resolution agreeing on the legal framework (principles) for the use of outer space, dated 13 December 1963.
It refers to a previous UN resolution agreeing not to put weapons in space, dated 17 October 1963.
It makes a previous UN resolution not to encourage fighting between countries, dated 3 November 1947, apply to space as well.
This Treaty will help the aims of the UN Charter.
(The term Space includes the Moon, planets and other objccts in Space)
ANY COUNTRY CAN GO INTO SPACE BUT COUNTRIES SHOULD HELP EACH OTHER
The exploration and use of space is for the good of the whole world. Under international law any country can do space research and send people into space. This will help countries to get along with each other.
NO-ONE OWNS SPACE
No country can say it owns a part of space.
LAW IN SPACE
Exploration and use of space must be done lawfully (according to international law) in order to maintain peace between the countries.
NO WEAPONS IN SPACE
There are to be no weapons such as nuclear bombs in space. No country can set up a military base or training ground in space, however military people may be used for peaceful purposes such as space exploration.
Astronauts are regarded as representatives of the people of the world, and all countries should help any astronaut who is in danger either in space or when coming back to earth. Countries must tell everyone else if they find something in space which could harm any other astronauts.
Governments are responsible for what they or their people do in outer space. People and companies exploring and using outer space must be supervised by their own government. International groups who explore or use outer space are responsible for what they do, both as a group and as individual members within that group.
The people who launch spacecraft, and the countries from where they are launched, are responsible for any accidents which may affect other countries.
OWNERSHIP OF SPACECRAFT
The owner of the spacecraft remains the owner, wherever the spacecraft lands. If it lands in another country it must be returned to the owner once he has proved it belongs to him.
CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS
Anything done in Space may affect other parts of the world. This must be taken into account when planning space exploration and experiments and others should be told if it may be a dangerous experiment. What's more, efforts should be made to avoid pollution of both the earth and of outer space. Any country in the Treaty can ask to be told about possible dangers.
THE RIGHT TO WATCH
All countries in the Treaty can ask to observe (watch) the flight of spacecraft launched by other countries.
The countries who have signed the Treaty agree to tell the Secretary General of the UN, the public and the scientists, what sort of activities they are doing in space, where these are, and their results.
All space stations, spacecraft, etc off earth can be looked at by other countries. The visitors must warn them first, so that it does not affect the experiments or make the place unsafe.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS ARE COVERED TOO
The Treaty stands whether the activity in space is carried out by a government or an international organisation. Any problems caused by these activities will be solved by those who signed the Treaty.
HOW AND WHEN TO SIGN THE TREATY
1) The Treaty can be signed by any country. Any country not signing before the Treaty starts may sign later.
2) The Treaty has to be agreed by everyone who signs it and copies kept in the UK, USA and USSR (now Russia).
3) The Treaty is in force when five governments have agreed to all the articles in it (ratified the Treaty).
4) For countries who sign later, the Treaty starts when they have agreed to all the articles in it (ratified the Treaty).
5) The holders of the Treaty - (UK, USA and USSR [now Russia]) - must say who has signed it and what they have agreed.
6) The Treaty is registered under Article 102 of the United Ntaions Charter.
MAKING CHANGES TO THE TREATY
Any country who signed the Treaty can suggest changes to it for the others to think about, and to change if they all agree.
HOW TO LEAVE THE TREATY
If a country doesn't want to be bound by the Treaty any more it must give one year's written notice to the holders of the Treaty (the depository governments).
WHAT LANGUAGES THE TREATY IS WRITTEN IN
The Treaty is written in the five official languages of the UN (Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) and each version is as important as the others. Any country who signed the Treaty can have a certified copy of it.
The Treaty was signed on 27th January 1967 by the three depository governments in London, Moscow and Washington.
The original text of the Treaty is available at the UNOOSA Website.
Activities for Teachers
In preparing the web site we reviewed the following documents:
The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial bodies.
International Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space: Activities of Member States. Declaration on International Co-operation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for the Benefit and in the Interests of All States, Taking into Particular Account the Needs of Developing Countries.
These documents are available at the UNOOSA Website.
Interpretation and lesson plans of the United Nation Office of Outer Space Affairs information from its site - interpreted and prepared by The Orbital Mechanics Educational Network for SEE.