The most studied and academically debated laws regarding outer space consist of the five United Nations treaties, which were entered into force from 1967 to 1984. After this condensed period of treaty activity, United Nations resolutions and principles took the place of treaties on which consensus otherwise needed to be achieved. Hard space law developed primarily at the national level in the form of various acts or regulations adopted by individual nation states. Even though formal laws can typically be promulgated more quickly at the national level, such hard laws still may not be the most efficient method for governmental legal oversight. Formulation of laws can no longer keep pace with the technological innovations that drive the aerospace industry. Often informal laws, through industry self-regulation or contract, prove more effective in protecting the rights of those engaged in such activities and public safety. The informal regulation of space activities will likely supplant the role that formal laws once held except where targeted, formal laws are needed to fill gaps left through informal regulation.
Rachel A. Yates,
Informal Regulation of Space Activities,
87 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol87/iss2/8