Emory International Law Review


Reid White


In 2019, U.S. Astronaut Anne McClain was investigated for possibly committing the first crime in outer space, leading to questions regarding criminal law in outer space. After reviewing international space treaties such as the Outer Space Treaty, Moon Agreement, and Intergovernmental Agreement for the International Space Station, it becomes clear there is no comprehensive framework for addressing outer space crimes. National legislation of space-faring countries also fails to address all wrongdoings. Even with a comprehensive outer space treaty that would assign criminal jurisdiction to certain states in event of wrongdoing, analogous terrestrial treaties and incidents show that this would still be insufficient to avoid international conflicts. For these reasons, and because of the current international culture of cooperation in outer space and the advent of commercial space tourism, the time is ripe for the international community to create a universal Outer Space Criminal Statute (OSCS), similar to but without the limited scope and jurisdiction of the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court. Such an OSCS would serve as a comprehensive criminal code for all persons in outer space and would create an international judiciary body with sole original jurisdiction over all outer space crimes.