Volume 44 (2019) / Issue 6
Non-legally binding instruments are increasingly influencing the contemporary international approach towards the development of regulation of space activities. The example of space debris mitigation was – and remains – a prominent paradigm that has not only given way to a set of international non-legally binding guidelines and standards, but also reinforced the standing of ‘soft law’ as an alternative format for global norm setting. However, the successful development and proliferation of non-legally binding instruments for space debris mitigation is neither a proof, nor a guarantee, that such non-traditional approaches to norm setting can ultimately provide a necessary level of legal certainty in space law, as such an approach comes with challenges. Those are also relevant for the national implementation of the Guidelines on the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities adopted in June 2019 by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. This article discusses the levels of national implementation of non-legally binding instruments and their effectiveness in reaching the purpose and objectives of such instruments. In doing so, it shall shed light on the contribution of soft law and its national implementation to the development of space law at large.
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