Over the past 22 years, the UN General Assembly has adopted annual resolutions calling for the continued peaceful use of space and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. The resolution calls on all States to refrain from any action contrary to the peaceful uses of space and calls on the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate a multilateral agreement to prevent an arms race in outer space. Most of these resolutions were unanimous and unopposed, although the United States and some other governments abstained. In its most recent version, adopted by the First Committee of the General Assembly in November 2002, there were 151 votes in favour of the resolution, but not against it. The United States and Israel abstained and 38 permanent representatives were absent from the first commission. However, the Space Treaty should never be complete. The agreement, which was in its infancy, should address problems that could arise in the decency of space technology. It is therefore a little flexible in its interpretation, as well as limited. But the treaty has always served as the basis for any space legislation put in place over the last half century.
„It`s essentially the most important and fundamental source of international space law,“ Christopher Johnson, space law advisor at the Secure World Foundation, told The Verge. „All international space law flows from this, and all national space activities are covered by the treaty.“ But the hallmark of the space treaty is that it is not too detailed. „It doesn`t solve all the problems,“ says Henry Hertzfeld, a research professor of space policy and international affairs at George Washington University in The Verge. The document is only 17 brief articles in length; By way of comparison, the Law of the Sea Treaty – a set of rules for ocean exploitation – contains hundreds of articles. The treaty prohibits countries from using „nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction“ in space. The term „weapons of mass destruction“ is not defined, but it is generally understood as nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. However, the treaty does not prohibit the firing of ballistic missiles into space that could be armed with weapons of war. The Treaty constantly insists that space must be used for peaceful purposes, leading some analysts to conclude that the treaty could be interpreted as prohibiting in space any type of weapons system, not just weapons of mass destruction.
The Space Treaty mandates countries to „avoid“ harmful contamination of celestial bodies. In addition, countries must ensure that all the space materials they bring back to Earth do not harm the planet. These obligations have become the basis of so-called planetary protection, an attempt to protect the solar system from earth contamination and to protect the Earth from possible extraterrestrial lives. This has become an important aspect of all the planetary missions that NASA and other space agencies carry out. In 1967, when the Space Treaty was signed, the Cold War was in full swing. The United States and the Soviet Union wanted to avoid the extension of the nuclear arms race to a completely new territory. And as space technologies became more advanced, there was concern that Earth`s orbit, and beyond, offered a whole new area from which weapons of mass destruction could be fired. That is why an article of the treaty prohibits countries from putting nuclear weapons into orbit or on other planetary bodies.