Law, College of


Date of this Version



Published in: PROCEEDINGS: United Nations/Brazil Workshop on Space Law: DISSEMINATING AND DEVELOPING INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL SPACE LAW: THE LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN PERSPECTIVE. UNITED NATIONS, New York, 2005. Paper originally presented November 23, 2004. Copyright 2005 Frans von der Dunk.


In a highly political, highly visible area of society such as that of space activities, 'law' and 'policy' are not always clearly distinguishable - and more often that not, the ties between the two are very short and very direct. If a distinction would need to be made, certainly to the public eye 'policy' would focus more on the day-to-day handling of affairs with 'flexibility' as the key concept, whereas 'law' would be - focusing more on long-range stability, with inherent 'inflexibility' almost inevitably following from that. Whatever the value of such evaluation, essentially the ties between the two are bi-directional.

From the one end, 'law' presents one of the major parameters - at least in law-abiding societies - for policy making, next to such less formal, more amorphous parameters as political, economic, social, moral, technical and scientific ones. Certain policy alternatives will be downright prohibited, others will be confronted with too many negative legal consequences to represent viable alternatives, still others will almost automatically follow from existing law and regulation.

From the other end, 'law' is one of the instruments through which actual policies - at least those of a more comprehensive, long-during and substantive character - can be implemented. Once a certain major policy shift has been decided upon at the relevant levels, almost inevitably the need and desirability arise to change relevant parts of the law as it stands. By adding to, or changing the existing legal regime, the new policies are given substance and at least some measure of stability.

When, therefore, the present paper seeks to discuss current and future development of national space law and policy, this is done keeping the closely intertwined role and character of 'law' and 'policy' as referred to above in mind. Since, to a certain extent, this makes the choice as to where to start -- take law or policy as the point of departure? -- of lesser importance, the current author hopes to be excused for taking, as a lawyer, the law as the point of departure, transiting whenever and wherever he feels necessary -- and at least a bit confident! -- into the territory of policy more properly speaking. Especially when looking towards the future of national space law and policy, the law as it is -- for the reasons briefly indicated above -- represent a helpful set of parameters in any case.