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Reading: Houston, We Have a Problem - Jurisdictional Issues of Criminal Law in Outer Space

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Houston, We Have a Problem - Jurisdictional Issues of Criminal Law in Outer Space

Author:

Avin Persad-Ford

University College London, GB
About Avin
I am an articling candidate at Howard C. Cohen & Associates, a civil and criminal litigation firm in Toronto, Canada. My academic interests lie in international law and taxation. In my spare time, I enjoy carpentry, reading, and playing with my cat, BabyFaceCakes (her fosters named her!).
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Abstract

This paper argues that the current means of prescribing criminal jurisdiction in outer space are inadequate. The Outer Space Treaty and Intergovernmental Agreement – the main international law instruments that prescribe criminal jurisdiction in outer space - fail to account for many potentially common scenarios in outer space. It would also be impractical to fully transplant the means of prescribing criminal jurisdiction on Earth to apply in outer space too. This paper argues that, although it is customary international law to not have a hierarchy of prescriptive criminal jurisdictions on Earth, the best approach for outer space would be to amend Article VIII of the Outer Space Treaty to allow for a hierarchy of prescriptive criminal jurisdictions there. In descending order of priority, the jurisdictions should be based on territoriality, active nationality, passive personality, universality, and protectivity. Such a hierarchy would respect the underlying principles governing human activity in outer space, while providing greater certainty to countries about whose criminal laws apply under which scenarios in outer space than the current regime provides for.
How to Cite: Persad-Ford, A., 2022. Houston, We Have a Problem - Jurisdictional Issues of Criminal Law in Outer Space. LSE Law Review, 8(1), pp.1–35.
Published on 28 Nov 2022.
Peer Reviewed

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