Law, College of


Date of this Version



Published (as Chapter 4) in Earth Observation Data Policy and Europe, edited by Ray Harris (Lisse: A. A. Balkema, 2002), pp. 29–40. Copyright © 2002 Swets & Zeitlinger B.V. (Division of Taylor & Francis). Used by permission.


The United Nations Principles on Remote Sensing were adopted by consensus on 3 December 1986. They provide a set of non-binding yet agreed and politically relevant principles to guide the activities of remote sensing by the United Nations member states. The 15 principles are each examined in turn in this chapter.

This chapter deals with the Resolution on remote sensing and its impact on the user and user-relevant issues in an area involving a complex chain of activities with the resulting (legal) relations. While many types of users may be envisaged or are already active in the field, for the present purpose the user could perhaps best be circumscribed with reference to the chain of activities involved in satellite remote sensing, as being at the (receiving) end of that chain. Users can be public, private or mixed entities. From a future-oriented perspective, however, the private character of many users provides the most interesting feature, bringing the pertinent legal issues to the fore most clearly.