Principles of Space Resources Exploitation under International Law

국제법상 우주자원개발원칙

  • Kim, Han-Teak (International Law at School of Law, Kangwon National University)
  • 김한택 (강원대학교 법학전문대학원)
  • Received : 2018.11.30
  • Accepted : 2018.12.26
  • Published : 2018.12.30


Professor Bin Cheng said that outer space was res extra commercium, while the moon and the other celestial bodies were res nullius before the 1967 Outer Space Treaty(OST). However, Article 2 of the OST made the moon and other celestial bodies have the legal status as res extra commmercium, not appropriated by any country or private enterprises or individual person, but the resources there can be freely available, as those on the high seas. The non-appropriation principle was introduced to corpus juris spatialis internationalis. Whether or not the non-appropriation principle is binding for the non-parties of the OST, many scholars see this principle as an international customary law, even developing into jus cogens. Article 11(2) of the Moon Agreement(MA) reconfirms the nonappropriation principle of Article 2 of the OST, but it has much less effect than the OST because the MA binds only the 18 parties involved. The MA applies only to the moon and celestial bodies other than the Earth in the Solar System, the OST's application scope extends to the Galaxy because the OST has no such substantive enactment. As referred to in the 2015 CSLCA of USA or Luxembourg's Law of Space Resources, allowing individuals and enterprises run by other countries to commercially explore and utilize the space resources, the question may arise whether this violates the non-appropriation principle under Article 2 of the OST and Article 11 of the MA. In the case of the CSLCA, the law explicitly specifies that sovereignty, possessory rights, and judiciary rights to a specific celestial body cannot be claimed, let alone ownership. This author believes that this law respects the legal status of outer space and the celestial bodies as res extra commmercium. As long as any countries or private enterprises or individuals respect the non-appropriation principle of outer space and the celestial bodies, they could use, exploit it. Another question might be raised in the difference between res extra commercium on the high seas and res extra commercium in outer space and the celestial bodies. Collecting resources on the high seas and exploiting space resources should be interpreted differently. On the high seas, resources can be collected without any obstacles like fishing, whereas, in the case of the deep sea-bed area, the Common Heritage of Mankind principles under the UNCLOS should be operated by the International Seabed Authority as an international regime. The nature or form of the sea resources found on the high seas are thus different from that of space resources, which are fixed on the moon and the celestial bodies without water. Thus, if individuals or private enterprises collect these resources from outer space and the celestial bodies, they might secure a certain section and continue collecting or mining works without any limitation. If an American enterprise receives an approval from the U.S. government, secures the best location and collects resources on the moon, can other countries' enterprises access to this area? How large the exploiting place can be allotted on the moon? How long should such a exploiting activity be lasted? Under the current international space law, these matters might be handled according to the principle of "first come, first served." As a consequence, the international community should provide a guideline or a proposal for the settlement of any foreseeable disputes during the space activity to solve plausible space legal questions in the near future.

미국의 2015년 "상업적 우주발사 경쟁력 법"(CSLCA)나 2017년 룩셈부르크의 우주자원의 탐사 및 활용에 관한 법에서 명시된 바와 같이 자국민은 물론 타국이 운영하는 기업에게도 우주자원의 상업적 탐사와 이용할 수 있도록 허용하는 조항은 우주조약(OST) 제2조 및 달협정(MA) 제11조 2항의 우주 및 천체의 비전유원칙에 위반되는 조항인가 하는 점이 중요한 문제이다. CSLCA는 이 법에 의해 특정 천체에 대한 주권이나 점유권, 사법권을 주장하거나 소유를 주장할 수 없다고 분명하게 명시하고 있다. OST 제2조의 비전유원칙에 의하여 달과 다른 천체들이 무주지(res nullius)에서 국제공역(res extra commmercium)으로 전환되는 법적 지위를 가짐으로써 우주와 천체는 마치 공해와 같이 각 국가가 이곳을 전유할 수는 없으나, 이곳의 자원을 자유롭게 이용할 수 있게 되었다. 그러면 OST 제2조의 비전유원칙은 비당사국도 구속하는 조항인가 하는 점인데 다수의 학자들은 동 원칙은 국제조약상 규범은 물론 모든 국가들을 구속하는 국제관습법으로 심지어는 강행규범(jus cogens)으로 발전된 조항이라고 보고 있는데 필자도 이에 동의하는 바이다. 우주 및 천체의 지위가 마치 해양법상 공해에 적용되는 res extra commmercium이기 때문에 어느 국가나 사기업 또는 개인이 우주 및 천체의 비전유원칙을 존중하는 한 그곳의 사용 및 수익행위를 할 수 있다면 우주 및 천체에 접근하지 못하는 국가나 개인 또는 사기업체들은 후발주자로서 손해를 크게 보게 될 것이고 이렇게 방치될 경우 우주개발국의 무제한의 우주자원채취는 우주자원이 고갈되는 상태를 불러일으킬 것이 분명하다. 이를 극복하기 위하여 인류공동유산(CHM)개념이 도입된 MA가 등장한 것인데, 심지어 MA 제정에 참가한 국가들마저 동 협정의 조약당사국이 되기를 꺼려하고 있는 것이 현실이다. 우주와 천체가 마치 공해와 같이 각 국가가 이곳을 전유할 수는 없으나, 이곳의 자원을 자유롭게 이용할 수 있게 되는 곳이라면 만일 미국의 어느 기업체가 미국의 승인을 얻어 달의 일부 중 가장 좋은 지점을 확보하고 자원을 수집할 때, 타국 기업체도 이에 접근할 수 있는가? 그리고 일정지역이란 달에서 어느 정도 크기의 영역인가? 그리고 얼마동안 수집할 것인가? 현재 국제우주법체계에서는 '선착순의 원리'(first come, first served)에 따라 이를 허용하는 수밖에 없을 것이다. 따라서 이제 국제공동체는 국가들의 우주활동 중 예견되는 분쟁해결을 위한 국제회의를 조만간 개최하여야 하며, 조약으로 해결할 수 없는 우주법 문제들을 선언 및 결의와 같은 연성법(soft law)을 통해서라도 조속히 이 문제를 해결해야 할 것이다.



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