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The Emerging Customary Law of Space, 58 Northwestern University Law Review 618 (1963)


The most insistent question in the law of space today must be how the peoples of the world can best clarify the necessary general community policies, for resolution of the many important problems arising from their interactions in space, in a way which will appropriately reflect their genuine, common interests. My purpose is to outline a framework of inquiry in response to this question and to make a brief assessment of the degree to which peoples have already begun, through processes of customary development, to achieve an authoritative consensus upon preferred policies.

The importance of the problems in legal regulation with which we are concerned is, unfortunately, paralleled only by the pervasiveness of the misconceptions and confusions about them. Perhaps the most pervasive, certainly the most destructive, misconception is that which insists that we do not yet have any law of space at all. This particular misconception is, further, commonly accompanied by a clarion call for the assembling of a great multilateral conference to create vast new law—perhaps even to agree upon a comprehensive code for the regulation of all space activities. The enormous hold which such misconceptions have upon both popular and professional imagination could be illustrated from many different sources.

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