Law, College of


Date of this Version



Frans G. von der Dunk, “A Tale of Two Oceans: Governance of Terrestrial and Outer Space ‘Global Commons’,” Asian Journal of Air and Space Law 2:1 (January–June 2012), pp. 31–60.


Copyright 2012 Frans G. von der Dunk. Used by permission.


The governance of outer space is a key factor in determining whether that area will continue to remain open for scientific and other peaceful activities for the benefit of all mankind. At the same time, it is widely recognized that such governance is far from comprehensively realized as of today, and to the extent it does exist moreover, challenged by major developments, in particular in the area of private participation to space activities.

Taking such developments into account, efforts to further develop a proper system of governance for outer space often look for help to other existing, often more elaborated international regimes governance. The present article notably addresses, from such a perspective, the international regime applicable to that other "global commons," the terrestrial oceans, as it has developed over the centuries. It thus attempts to highlight the similarities as well as the differences between the two areas constituting global commons, in order to allow for the most effective and appropriate use of the law of the sea regime as precedent or analogy for further development of the governance regime for outer space.