Law, College of


Date of this Version



Published in Geo-information for Disaster Management, ed. Peter van Oosterom, Siyka Zlatanova, & Elfriede M. Fendel (Berlin/Heidelberg/New York: Springer, 2005), pp. 35-50. Copyright © 2005 Springer Science+Business Media. Used by permission.


Amongst the methods of gathering geo-information inter alia for disaster management purposes, the use of satellites is a particularly interesting one in view of their global coverage. In this area a number of recent interesting developments have taken place, such as the establishment of a Charter on Space and Major Disasters, and the rapidly evolving plans for GMES and GEOSS. These developments raise a number of legal issues, related to state responsibility, state liability, and the respective roles of intergovernmental organizations and commercial and/or private entities in this regard. These issues cannot be easily solved, since the international legal environment for the use of space data for disaster management purposes from the other end offers a rather fragmented picture. Some rules and principles exist on the international level, often however not well-defined and leaving room for conflicting interpretations. Others are confined to certain national territories, certain types of activities or even certain types of natural or legal persons. In still other cases no specific rules or principles can be found to be applicable at all.