Effects of the Bogota Declaration on the legal status of geostationary orbit in international space law

  • Ferdinand Onwe Agama
Keywords: Bogota Declaration, Geostationary Orbit, Outer Space Law, State Sovereignty, Non-appropriation Concept

Abstract

In late 1976, eight States traversed by the Equator convened in Bogotá, Colombia to canvass their rights over ‘a natural resource’ which in their belief, had been unfairly removed from their sovereignty. These States felt that their rights to control natural resources which nature has bestowed in their region had been unfairly abridged particularly by Article II of the Outer Space Treaty,1967 which concretises the rule that ‘outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation.’ At the conclusion of the conference, these States including Colombia, Ecuador, Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Uganda, and Zaire, with Brazil as an observer, proclaimed the Bogotá Declaration to assert their rights over the geostationary orbit (GSO). To circumvent the Outer Space Treaty’s declaration that outer space is not subject to national appropriation, the Bogotá Declaration smartly categorized the geostationary orbit as a natural resource, but failed to recognise it as a region of outer space. Accordingly therefore, these States in their opinion could call on the jus cogens principle that States have absolute control over their natural resources to exercise sovereignty over the geostationary orbit. The crux of this paper is therefore to ascertain if the above Declaration has in any way altered the legal position of the geostationary orbit in relation to the present outer space regime position on free use of outer space. This article recommends, among other things, the need for a regulation that would ensure an equitable access to the orbit by all States. A doctrinal approach is adopted in the research.

Keywords: Bogota Declaration, Geostationary Orbit, Outer Space Law, State Sovereignty, Non-appropriation Concept

Published
2017-05-29
Section
Articles

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print ISSN: 2276-7371